Geller accuses media of enforcing Sharia Law

pamelagellerPamela Geller is back in the news.

She announced on her blog she’s going to publish the winning cartoon from her Garland hatefest in ads on buses and trains in D.C.

She complains the media is enforcing Sharia Law and freedom of speech is under attack.

Here’s what she doesn’t understand. Freedom of the press means we have the right to print what we like and don’t have to print what we don’t want. Most media outlets haven’t found any reason to print her winning cartoon, because the only reason it was created was to insult and to incite violence. Had two gunmen not attacked her Garland Klan rally, media would have paid no attention to her event.

Freedom of speech doesn’t entitle her to newspaper coverage. She can print whatever she likes in her blog. She can say whatever she likes, wherever she likes.

Most people believe freedom of speech comes with responsibility. Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should say something. An example is how Westboro Baptist Church pickets military funerals. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Phelps clan has the right to picket, but no one really believes they should.

Freedom of the press comes with responsibilities as well.  An example is when police have asked us not to print information we had because it would jeopardize an investigation. The Constitution says we could print it. Responsible use of freedom of the press told us not to.

Most people understand the concept of respecting other people with different beliefs.

Most people understand that if the only reason to say something is to anger someone else, you might be better off keeping your damn mouth shut.

Geller doesn’t care to take that advice. Her cartoon serves no purpose other than to irritate people, but no one’s stopping her from saying anything. Because I choose not to print her vile cartoon isn’t because this Jewish guy is enforcing Sharia Law. It’s because I see no reason to print something whose sole purpose is to insult Muslim friends of mine.

—  David Taffet

Jindal’s end run around fairness and equality

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Just hours after a so-called “religious freedom” bill died in the Louisiana Legislature on Tuesday, May 19, Gov. Bobby Jindal had issued an executive order allowing businesses to discriminate based on owners’/operators’ religious beliefs on marriage.

“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar,” Jindal said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will … prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The Times-Picayune notes Jindal told reporters the order was issued Tuesday afternoon and went into effect immediately. The order will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the next legislative session. The next governor, however, can repeal it upon entering office in January, if he or she chooses.

The New Orleans newspaper also quoted state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who criticized the timing of the order, as well as Jindal’s decision to buck the will of the Legislature.

“It’s a sinful attempt to deflect from the failures of what should be the top legislative priority, what we’re dealing with every day, which is a bogus state budget,” she said from the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.

The Washington Post today (Wednesday, May 20), noted that Jindal’s executive order nearly mirrors the content and intent of the failed “Marriage and Conscience Act,” which itself closely resembles Religious Freedom Restoration Acts like the one that was vetoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson after an outcry from businesses, led by Wal-Mart, and the one recently enacted in Indiana, throwing that whole state into an uproar and hitting the Hoosier pocketbook hard and fast.

A similar measure died last week in the Texas Legislature.

The Post notes that one of the main reasons the Marriage and Conscience Act died in the Louisiana Legislature is because lawmakers feared it would impact the state’s economy, and would be especially harmful to tourism in a state that thrives on its visitors:

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Executive Stephen Perry called the bill “a radioactive, poisonous message,” saying it could cost the state $65 million per year.

But Jindal, in New York Times op-ed last month, said money doesn’t matter: “As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath,” he wrote.

Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk predicted that the executive order will substantially harm the tourism industry in the state. “Gov. Jindal’s stunt today once again underlines his disregard for Louisiana families, his disdain for the state legislature and his apparent contempt for the state’s tourism industry — the only segment of our economy his failed policies haven’t crippled,” Handwerk said.

The Post also pointed out that Jindal’s decision to stage an end run around the Legislature seems especially hypocritical, considering his attacks on President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders in connection with immigration reform.

—  Tammye Nash

Let the bigots show themselves: the case of a Michigan mechanic

KlawiterPersonally, if you don’t want to do business with me, I’d rather you let me know than let me inadvertently buy a product or service from you.

Now most business owners aren’t going to say anything, because they understand that bigotry isn’t good for business. But the ones that will go on Facebook or directly to the media to air their prejudices and stupidity, like the pizza place in Walkerton, Ind., are just so special.

Take Brian Klawiter. He’s a mechanic in Grandville, Mich., and owner of Dieseltec, who said he’d refuse service to gay people and if anyone argued gay rights with him, he’d fix the car with nuts and not bolts.

First, this guy is delusional. When was the last time you went to your mechanic and argued gay rights with them?

Oh, did I say mechanic. Unlicensed mechanic. It seems like getting that license goes against Klawiter’s civil rights and his religious beliefs, so Michigan is trying to get him to renew or put him out of business. So he does understand civil rights, just not for other people. And the state wouldn’t have gotten wind of this had he not made a media spectacle.

Several of his suppliers have insisted he remove their logos from his shop. They don’t want to be affiliated with that kind of hate. Seems auto parts suppliers have this funny idea that gays and lesbians and even transgender people use the exact same kinds of carburetors, alternators and other widgets that straight people put in their cars. They also pay the exact same money for them.

Also turns out that repairing a car improperly to cause injury can be considered murder or attempted murder. Michigan’s watching for faulty repairs and may charge him if found to have happened.

Of course if charged, it wouldn’t be Klawiter’s first brush with the law. He was convicted of assault in 1999 and then in 2001 for a parole violation. Serving gay people violates his “Christian” faith. Assault doesn’t.

And what do you do when you’re discriminated against for trying to discriminate against other people? You start a GoFundMe campaign. Seems Go Fund Me didn’t think it was such a hot idea to be associated with this campaign so after he raised $0, they pulled the page.

As a result of Klawiter’s tirade, Grandville is considering enacting a human rights ordinance. And now, not only the LGBT community in that part of Michigan knows where they probably shouldn’t get their cars repaired, but so do all of their friends, relatives and co-workers. Even “Christian” co-workers. What would happen if it came up in a conversation that you work with one of — them, you know, a gay.

See? Sometimes good things happen when we let the bigots show themselves.

—  David Taffet

Gay Uber drivers in Oklahoma will be able to kick straight people out of their cars

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Sen. Jason Smalley who isn’t gay. Really.

The Oklahoma Senate passed the “Oklahoma Transportation Network Company Services Act” that removed protection for passengers based on sexual orientation.

That will allow LGBT Uber drivers in the state to protect themselves from having to drive straight people to their destinations or take their money.

The House version of the bill prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“I believe if a private business owner wants to serve or not serve an individual, they have that purview right now,” said Sen. Jason Smalley, the bill’s Senate sponsor, according to ABC News.

However, if Uber or Lyft drivers decided to take Oklahoma up on its generous offer to discriminate, they could lose their affiliation with those companies since both have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation.

—  David Taffet

The Memories Pizza story: Doesn’t add up and isn’t the problem

MemoriesThe whole Memories Pizza “won’t cater a gay wedding story” just doesn’t add up.

First, as has been pointed out all over social media, no gay couple ever called out for pizza for their wedding. But that’s just pointing out the obvious.

We’re to believe a small-town Indiana pizza shop is suddenly the flashpoint for anti-Christian discrimination by the LGBT community and in one day they’re out of business?!

Sorry. Don’t believe it.

This became a story when a South Bend TV station told a reporter to travel about 30 minutes to the town of Walkerton and get reactions to the “religious freedom” bill that just passed. The owner of the pizza shop — or maybe she’s the owner’s daughter? — said she’s in favor of the law and then added that they wouldn’t cater a same-sex wedding.

A day later, the business was closed.

Sorry. There’s something wrong with this story.

First of all, media reporting the story should point out that the TV station had to travel half an hour from its studio to even find a business that supported the law. They must have looked locally and found nothing.

Memories Pizza hadn’t issued a press release or gone on social media to go out of its way to bash the LGBT community. The owner/owner’s daughter made an off-handed remark, while on camera, just repeating the nonsense she’d heard all over media before about all the bakers and photographers who have been “forced” to cater same-sex weddings.

Then the next day her business is closed.

So let’s assume as a result of her TV appearance, there was a sudden boycott of her business. In one day, she was forced to close. What would happen if it snowed in her Indiana town and she was forced to shut down for one day? Would she also be out of business?

More likely than not, her friends and neighbors who saw her on TV the day before stopped by just to say they saw her and while they were there they bought something. I’m sure business was just fine at Memories yesterday.

Maybe she closed because of phone threats?

Let me tell you something about phone threats. Doing an LGBT radio show, I’ve gotten death threats, bomb threats and just plain harassing calls. Lots of them. A few weeks ago, I was substituting on KNON’s Jewish Music Hour and I got an anti-semitic call. Wow. Hadn’t heard that kind of stupidity in awhile.

Here’s what you do when you get threatening phone calls. You take the call seriously and call the police.

I can assure you here in Dallas, threats like that are taken seriously. Very seriously. I’m sure in Walkerton, Ind., the police know their downtown businesses and take those kinds of threats personally as well as seriously.

If Memories Pizza really is out of business, the business was failing already. If she’s closed because she’s overwhelmed by the response, fine, take a vacation. Everyone’s entitled to one.

Here’s how I see this case. A small town business was put in front of city media, said something stupid and panicked. If anyone is calling and harassing her, stop it. Really. Stop it now.

Memories Pizza isn’t the problem. Gov. Mike Pence who wants to fix the law but is against LGBT protections is the problem.

—  David Taffet

Clerk in Denison shop berates mother for letting daughter choose boy clothes

Maddie

Maddie in her Easter suit

A clerk at a children’s clothing store in Denison reportedly accused a mother of child abuse for allowing her 5-year-old daughter to choose a boy’s suit and tie as her Easter outfit.

Rachel Giordano told K-TEN television station that her daughter Maddie is a tomboy who has “preferred to dress in boys clothes since she was about three-years-old.” Rachel said she doesn’t mind a bit if Maddie likes wearing boy clothes, but a clerk in Martha’s Miniatures in Denison did mind. A lot.

Rachel Giordano told the TV station that she and Maddie were hanging out at Denison’s Art Walk last Saturday, March 28, when she decided to take her daughter into Martha’s to shop for an Easter outfit. But when the store clerk saw the little girl, she was outraged.

Rachel Giordano told K-TEN, “The woman’s face was just a face of disgust. She told me that I was promoting wrong behavior. That parent’s should not let their children choose the way that they dress if it’s cross-gendered.”

She said the incident made Maddie start crying, and after they left the store, she put a post on her Facebook page recounting the incident.

When the store started getting blowback over what happened, the clerk decided to explain her side of the story. In posts on the Martha’s Miniatures FB page the clerk said, “I was so shocked she asked for a boys suit for the child. I asked her why she was encouraging this.” And in another post, “This is child abuse from the mother.”

The Martha’s Miniatures FB page has since been removed, K-TEN notes.

And just so you know, Rachel Giordano ended up taking Maddie to JCPenney’s, where the little girl got her Easter suit.

KTEN.com – No One Gets You Closer

—  Tammye Nash

The WWE smack down you may have missed: Rafael McDonnell v. Matt Krause

—  James Russell

Study: LGBT community faces discrimination by law enforcement

A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law reports the LGBT community faces ongoing and pervasive discrimination and harassment by law enforcement.badge

LGBT people of color and transgender individuals are adversely impacted by discrimination and harassment.

Key findings from the Williams Institute report based on several national surveys include:

  • More than one-fifth (21 percent) of LGBT people who interacted with police reported encountering hostile attitudes from officers and 14 percent reported verbal assault by the police.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of the LGBT violence survivors who interacted with police reported that they had experienced police misconduct, including unjustified arrest, use of excessive force and entrapment.
  • Two-thirds of Latina transgender women in Los Angeles County who interacted with police reported that they were verbally harassed by law enforcement, 21 percent report that they were physically assaulted by law enforcement, and 24 percent report that they were sexually assaulted by law enforcement.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of transgender respondents in a national survey reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance, 22 percent reported that they had been harassed by law enforcement because of bias, and 6 percent reported having been physically assaulted by an officer.

Williams Institute researchers also documented widespread and frequent incidents of misconduct toward LGBT people by law enforcement in all regions of the country, including many instances of severe physical and sexual abuse.

Such discrimination, harassment and abuse undermine effective policing by weakening community trust, reducing reporting of crimes by victims in the LGBT community and challenging law enforcement’s ability to effectively meet the needs of members of their communities.

The study comes as President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing issued recommendations today (Tuesday, March 3), to build stronger and more collaborative relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Among the recommendations, numerous local law enforcement agencies should:

  • adopt and enforce policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
  • implement training for officers to improve interactions with the LGBT population
  • improve data collection on misconduct by officers against LGBT people.

Among the Task Force members was former Dr. Cecil Alexander, the former federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at DFW Airport.

—  James Russell

Ask Lambda Legal: Discrimination As Religion

By Jennifer Pizer, national director

Lambda Legal’s Law and Policy Project

 

Q: I was reading about a bakery that didn’t want to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because it goes against the baker’s religion. Can’t the couple just go somewhere else?

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Jennifer Pizer

A: Private businesses, such as bakeries and grocery stores that offer goods to the public, are usually bound by public accommodation laws. These laws say that a business that is open to the public must be open to everyone, regardless of whether the business owner or employees approve of who each customer is.

This is an important protection against discrimination because the law treats bakeries, groceries and other stores — businesses operating to make profits — differently from churches and other organizations that exist for religious purposes. If a bakery, store or restaurant were allowed to turn away gay people, it would open the floodgates to all kinds of discrimination against many different groups in all kinds of business settings, not just gay people.

For example, medical clinics often are private businesses. What if a for-profit clinic decided for religious reasons not to care for a pregnant woman because she isn’t married? Or, if a landlord believes that men should be the head of the household and refuses to rent to single mothers?

Freedom of religion is already firmly protected by the state and federal constitutions. But that freedom does not give any of us the right to discriminate against others when operating a business.

And yet, that is exactly what many lawmakers across the country are attempting to allow. Last year saw numerous bills in state legislatures aiming to expand religious rights to ignore laws. Fortunately, in Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota and Tennessee those efforts were dropped or stopped. However, the movement pushing these bills continues.

Indiana is currently considering this type of legislation, and it illustrates why we’re worried. The intention to facilitate discrimination against gay and transgender people is all too clear. But the bill also threatens to encourage a broad range of other harms because, in other states with this kind of law, individuals have argued that non-discrimination laws, child abuse laws and domestic violence laws don’t apply to them if they have a religious objection.

As Arizona lawmakers realized after hastily approving their similar bill last year, vastly expanding religious rights in business settings would interfere with employers’ ability to manage employees who misbehave in the name of religion while badly tarnishing the state’s reputation. Thankfully, then-Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed that bill.

But now, in Indiana and other states, “discrimination as religion” bills again are trying to provide a “freedom to discriminate,” using freedom of religion as a misleading excuse. And we must remain vigilant to ensure that these harmful bills do not become law.

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If you have questions or feel that you have been discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status, please contact our Legal Help Desk.

—  Tammye Nash

Indiana Senate votes for religion-based discrimination

The Indiana Senate voted yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 3) to allow organizations such as hospitals and universities with religious affiliations to discriminate against employees who refuse to follow the employers’ religious beliefs, even if the employing organization receives state funds.

Holdman.Travis

Indiana Sen. Travis Holdman

Senate Bill 127 would allow those employers to make hiring decisions based on religious beliefs and to require employees to follow the religious tenets of the employer. The Republican-controlled Senate passed the bill on a vote of 39-11. All 10 Democrats in the Senate voted against the measure, and they were joined by one Republican: Sen. Ron Grooms of Jeffersonville.

Republican Sen. Travis Holdman, who authored the bill, said it does not grant license to discriminate, but instead follows federal law which allows similar exemptions from nondiscrimination requirements. But Democratic Sen. Karen Tallian said the part of the bill that allows such employers to require employees to adhere to employers’ religious tenets goes way beyond federal exemptions, and called the measure outrageous.

Outrageous or not, such “religious liberty” bills are definitely all the rage this year, being pushed by right-wingers furious over advances in marriage equality and LGBT civil rights try every tactic they can think of not to have to comply with court rulings striking down marriage equality bans — including an expected ruling this summer by the U.S. Supreme Court. The 2015 Texas Legislature, in session for less than a month, has already seen its share, as the Texas Observer points out here.

—  Tammye Nash