King County Board of Health Vote Forces “Limited Service Pregnancy Centers” to Post Warnings

The outcome was predetermined, but it was still a little bit surprising.

The meeting began with an hour of public testimony, limited to one minute per speaker, and dominated by those opposed to the proposal targeting pregnancy centers.

Nevertheless, the King County Board of Health voted 10-1 to require “limited service pregnancy centers” to post notices in their facilities, in 48 point font in 10 different languages, that say “This facility is not a health care facility.”

Councilmember Kathy Lambert was the lone vote in opposition.

The purported reason for the regulations was to prevent delay in receiving pregnancy information that can have an adverse health impact on both the woman and the baby.

However, public testimony in support of the proposal was conspicuously devoid of anyone who claimed to have been deceived, delayed, or otherwise harmed by a pregnancy center.

That isn’t to say no one was there to support the regulation.

A small parade of interns from the far-left legal group Legal Voice had several bad things to say.  None of them, however, claimed any personal contact with the organizations, much less harm.

Legal Voice is the organization who sent fake clients into pregnancy centers under false pretenses.   Unsurprisingly, they reported that the centers were deceptive and dangerous.

The staff report prepared by the Board of Health that is frequently referred to as the justification for the rule relied entirely upon the Legal Voice report.

Kim Triller, executive director of Care Net of Puget Sound, told the board emphatically that the contents of the report were false, but the board seemed uninterested.

We are not aware of any attempt by the Board of Health to independently verify whether the accusations were true.

The vast majority of those who attended the hearing were opposed to the proposed regulation. No fewer than 10 women, who had personally been served by the pregnancy centers, described how the pregnancy centers served them.

Council members attempted to acknowledge the good work the centers were doing and repeatedly emphasized that this was not an attempt to shut down the centers.

Still, the political rather than policy motives were transparent.

While the committee claimed to have been working on the issue for more than a year, they appeared to have done little actual thinking about the rule itself.

For example, a significant amount of time was spent trying to figure out how many pieces of 8.5 x 11 paper were required to print the notice in 48 point font in ten different languages.   That fairly rudimentary conversation seemed to betray the fact that very little actual thinking had been done about the rule.

Five minutes before the passage of the regulations one member pointed out that requiring pregnancy centers to post the warning on internet advertising in ten different languages makes many forms of internet advertising illegal or impractical for pregnancy centers.

Imagine the impact of the following advertisement with a warning printed in 10 different languages.

Kinda takes away the impact, doesn’t it?  Well. That’s the point.

While the notice might actually fit on a banner of this size, it could be illegal for a pregnancy center to purchase a smaller advertisement because there wouldn’t be room for the notice.

That fact creates a significant constitutional problem for the rule.

The council, however, was now more than two hours into the meeting. They appeared to be losing interest in discussing the actual impact.

So they just passed it.

Constitutional concerns about the rule abound.  Additional free speech concerns include prohibitions on government forcing people to engage in “compelled speech”.   Additionally, the rules would not apply to centers that perform abortions.

Several federal courts have found similar regulations to be unconstitutional and an appeal of a similar regulation from California is on the Supreme Court’s conference schedule for September 25, 2017.  As a result, the Supreme Court may soon be speaking to this issue soon.

Constitutional issues aside, it remains unclear whether any centers in King County actually fall under the definition of a “limited service pregnancy center” according to the rule.

The definition of a “limited service pregnancy center” excludes “health care facilities… where licensed, certified, registered, or otherwise authorized health care providers conduct functions that make it governed by 70.02 RCW.”

Virtually every pro-life pregnancy center meets this definition of a “health care facility” and is therefore exempt.

It is possible that in their effort to appease the abortion lobby, the county has drawn a circle so small that no one is inside it.

If that’s the case, even abortion industry lackeys can’t help but wonder whether the inevitable legal costs to the county are worth the effort to regulate no one.

Regardless, you can be sure that groups like Planned Parenthood, Legal Voice, and the National Abortion Rights Action League will use these rules to harass pro-life facilities even if, in the end, the rule is found not to apply to them.

After all, that’s the entire point of the rule is harassment, isn’t it?

Those who receive political contributions helping those who make political contributions.

 

Three Reasons Progressives Want You to Hate Them

A lot of you have probably had this experience.

Someone is yelling at you. They want answers. They are demanding to know why you hate them.

You’re confused. You’re sure you don’t hate this person because, for starters, you’ve never met them before.

You’re willing to grant that they don’t make an awesome first impression, but what you feel isn’t close to hate.

But the accusation is frustrating, nonetheless.

You go out of your way to be kind, but still, anytime you express your opinions, people accuse you of being hateful.

Well, before you wring your hands too much more, it can be helpful to remember that some people want you to hate them.

Here are three reasons why.

  1. They get Oppression Points

First, they want you to hate them because they get oppression points. In many places today, being a victim is an accomplishment. Just google “fake hate crimes.” You don’t harm yourself and accuse someone else of doing it unless you think it will help you somehow. In social justice warrior circles, being a victim is valued more highly than being disciplined, industrious, or smart. People want to believe you to hate them because it gives their life significance.

They can’t go back to their snowflake convention with, “They disagree with me, but they’re enjoyable people, and our kids get along great.” They need you to hate them because believing they are hated is a fundamental part of their identity.

     2. They Don’t Want to Have to Consider Your Arguments

Second, they want you to hate them because if you don’t, they would feel obligated to consider what you have to say. The respectful thing to do with people you disagree with is to engage with them through an exchange of ideas that involves mutual respect and a sincere attempt to understand the other’s perspective.

But they don’t want to have to explain why kids don’t need a mom and dad or why a white woman can identify as a man but not as an African American. They just want to be able to do whatever they want to do and never feel judged for doing it. By telling themselves that you are hateful, they relieve themselves of the need to defend their ideas from critique or otherwise engage you on a human level.

Which leads to the third reason they want to believe you hate them.

     3. They Hate You

They want to believe you hate them because they hate you. That is the great irony in this scenario. They hate you because you think there are ways to show love other than through approval. In their mind, if you hate them, that somehow validates their hatred of you. That’s the nature of bitterness.

The sad fact is, once you choose to hate someone, everything they do is offensive. That means even your kindnesses will be interpreted in a way that allows them to think you’re hateful. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Of course, not everyone wants to believe you hate them. There are plenty of people of every political persuasion who can acknowledge the goodwill of people they disagree with.

But the next time you encounter someone who refuses to give your motives the benefit of the doubt, in the words of the great American philosopher Taylor Swift, “Shake it off.”

It could be that they accuse you of hating them because they want you to.

Your job is just to make sure it’s not true.

The Collateral Damage of the War on Reality

As two more recent stories indicate, the war on gender has nothing to do with bathrooms.

In the first story, a Canadian parent wants their child’s birth certificate to be the first to identify a baby as neither male or female. The parent, who identifies as neither male or female, had this to say about the baby.

“I’m recognizing them as a baby and trying to give them all the love and support to be the most whole person that they can be outside of the restrictions that come with the boy box and the girl box.”

While all of this started as a call for compassion for the tiny percentage of the population who feel like they are the “other” gender,  it has quickly led to rejecting the idea that there is anything that can be known from one’s anatomy.

But asking children to reach conclusions about things they know nothing about is self-evidently silly.

When a child asks “What am I?”, it doesn’t help if all the adults look back at them and ask, “I don’t know, what are you?”

The adults are supposed to know things the kids don’t.

Still, it could be worse.

While some parents are choosing not to impose a gender, other parents don’t have the same patience.

In this story, three, queer parents of a three-year-old that they dubbed “queerspawn” have determined that their child is transgender.  The author of this story describes himself as transgender and asexual.  He says this about the child.

He was assigned female at birth, but his non-conforming behavior was clear and consistent from day one. It started with his hair. He hated wearing it long, and he hated it when we did anything with it. No ponytails, no braids — nothing. He also refused to wear dresses and skirts.

The child probably can’t be trusted to sleep through the night without wetting the bed, but we’re supposed to believe she has a grasp on gender norms as expressed through hair length and clothing and the awareness to understand both their significance, how to reject them, and the consequences of doing so.

While sure their child is transgender, they now wonder whether she will be queer as well.

I don’t wish him any more marginalization and oppression than he’ll already face as a trans person. But I can’t help but think that if he’s queer, there’ll be yet another community he can join, another supportive place for him to vent about that oppression. There are other queer people who will listen and sympathize with him beyond his family. He will need those people when he gets older and flies away from us.

Some parents hope their kids have an adventure, a healthy family, a place that makes them happy, and life-long love.

Other parents label their three-year-old transgender, hope she is attracted to men, which they say would make her gay because they think she’s a boy, and then hope she finds a community to vent about oppression.

Sadly, in 2017, this qualifies as parenting.

I have no doubt these parents want the best for their child.

But it’s hard to know what is good for your child when your view of the world has replaced the concepts of “good” and “bad” with “preferred” or “not preferred.”

We can all understand the appeal of a world is which nothing is inherently wrong, and the only possible consequences of our behavior were environmental which would allow us to manage the fallout by simply fixing the environment.

If, however, that world doesn’t actually exist, if our pursuit of our preferences continues to collide with the natural laws of the universe, the only actual outcome of our pursuits will be pain.

As is usually the case when adults make mistakes, kids will end up as collateral damage in our war on reality.

 

 

Will a Privacy Law Ruin Washington’s Economy?

Why should you be cool with men undressing in front of girls?

Because money.

That’s the argument being made by opponents of privacy rights in Washington State. They claim that if Washington State adopts rules that require schools to separate facilities based on a students sex then Washington’s economy will collapse.

Their evidence? North Carolina.

You may be recall that North Carolina passed a bill called HB 2 which, though very different than than I-1552 currently being considered in Washington, also dealt with policies surrounding access to private facilities.

The progressive mob worked very hard to keep HB 2 from becoming law, but it passed anyway. At which point they channeled their passion into doing whatever they could to harm the economy of North Carolina.

They convinced pop stars to cancel concerts and tried to get companies to stop doing business in the state.

They convinced the NCAA to move some basketball games out of North Carolina and the NBA to move the All-Star out of Charlotte and into New Orleans.

They neglected to mention that Louisiana has the same laws that they were so upset about in North Carolina.

Whatever.

Politicians got in on the act too. Governors in Washington, New York, and California banned travel state travel to North Carolina. Seattle’s Mayor did the same.

What was the fallout of the year-long effort to drive the economy of North Carolina into the ground?

Maybe not as bad as you think.

At the end of 2016, Forbes magazine still named North Carolina #2 on its annual “Best States for Business” list.

In 2016, Site Selection magazine ranked North Carolina as the #2 best business climate.

In 2017, North Carolina rose to #1.

Chief Executive magazine ranked North Carolina as the #3 state for business.

Washington State ranks worse than North Carolina in every case.

Before, during, and after the outrage of 2016, North Carolina has had one of the fastest growing economies in the country.

Unemployment is down and employment is up.

In 2016, North Carolina outpaced national averages in such categories as gross domestic product, labor force expansion, payroll jobs and inflation-adjusted wages.

This is not the story of an economy on the verge of collapse because of their belief in biology and privacy.

The highly publicized efforts to stop people from traveling to the state didn’t seem to work either.

Tourism in North Carolina’s increased 4.3% in 2016 and broke all-time records.

Was there an impact at all? Maybe

Supporters of HB 2 acknowledged that the worst-case scenario is an economic impact in North Carolina of one-tenth of one percent of the state’s economy. It could be less than that, which gets your perilously close to zero.

In general, however, Washington is looking up to North Carolina when it comes to its business climate.

But there’s something else to keep in mind as well.

The concern about potential economic impact isn’t a concern at all.

It’s a threat.

They aren’t concerned that passing Initiative 1552 would naturally create economic consequences, they’re promising to do their best to hurt people if it does as a way of deterring others from following suit.

But there’s a problem with this argument here in Washington, in addition to the fact that it didn’t work in North Carolina.

Are they going to convince Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks and the Jonas Brothers to take their business someplace more progressive?

I don’t think so either.

But even if their threats could work, even if they were able to harm the state’s economy out of spite, what kind of people trade the privacy and security of their wives and daughters for money anyway?

Hopefully not you.

Women’s Spa Under Fire for No-Penis Rule

Proponents of genderless locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms have long used slogans like “free to pee” to minimize the issue.

“Who cares where people go to the bathroom?” No one.

“Are you going to have a genital monitor standing outside the door?”  Of course no one is interested in that.

They miss the point on purpose, most likely.

But a recent story out of Toronto highlights the real problem of creating a one-size-fits-all rule that applies to every situation regardless of how unique it is.

The Body Blitz Spa operates two facilities in Toronto.  This business is unique because it is a single-sex facility enjoyed in the nude.

A naked spa for women.

Apparently there are women who enjoy taking their clothes off with strangers and doing spa things.

To each her own, right?  No judgment here.

Even if this isn’t your particular cup of tea, it isn’t hard to imagine why someone who enjoys being naked in a spa exclusively for women might feel differently knowing that a man could waltz in at any time.

Well, this poor spa has the misfortune of being in a gender specific business in 2017.

In an attempt to acknowledge the tremendous confusion about gender while still being in business and honoring the needs of their clientele, they had adopted a no-penis rule.  Men who had undergone gender reassignment surgery would be allowed, but people with a penis (still known by virtually everyone as men) would not be allowed.

Naturally, the progressive mob was outraged.

How dare they try to reach a compromise that attempted to balance the needs of the supermajority of their clients as well as the handful of people who experience gender dysphoria.

Compromise is so kindergarten.

These snowflakes are in college now and in college we learned that some women have a penis and anyone who disagrees deserves to be burned at the stake.

So burn they will.

Metaphorically of course.

They started the obligatory boycott, which would be incomplete without its own hashtag.  #BoycottBodyBlitz

Their Facebook page is full of comments from people who have probably never been to the spa, and maybe have never been to the country, giving their two cents about how awful all the people involved are.

Standard fare.

Though this is happening in Canada, it’s instructive to those of us in Washington State.

Right now, Washington State has the same rule in place.  There are spas in Washington State that provide similar opportunities for women to enjoy spa treatments in the nude.  But presently, Washington State law makes those facilities legally liable if they attempt to stop me from walking in and taking my clothes off.

That’s unreasonable.

And only the most unreasonable among us are unable to see that.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Initiative 1552 would eliminate the one-size-fits-all rule that currently applies to every public accommodation in the state and once again give businesses owners the freedom to create policies that consider everyone’s interests.

In addition, I-1552 would requires schools to maintain separate locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms for boys and girls.

There is only four weeks left to get the 330,000 signatures necessary to allow the voters to have a voice on this issue.

If you haven’t signed the petition,  click here to have a petition mailed to you , your friends, and family can sign the petition.  Then click here to make a contribution.

The thing is, there is middle ground in this debate.

I’m sure most of us can agree not to care where people go to the bathroom if the other side can agree to respect personal boundaries.

Sadly, that option wasn’t ever offered.

In one day we moved from, “Love can’t exist without boundaries” to “Boundaries are bigotry. Bigot.”

Which means we have to insist.  Politely but firmly.

It isn’t about someone being free to pee.

It’s about no one being free to make even simple decisions without consulting government first.

Share this with every business owner you know who doesn’t want to be sued for protecting the privacy of people in their business.

Then share it with every parent and grandparent who doesn’t want their 13-year old daughter or granddaughter forced to share a locker room with a boy who claims to be a girl.

Compassion does require you to care about other people’s kids. But it also requires you to care about your own.

I-1552 is your last chance to fix this in Washington State.  You have less than four weeks.

Or we can do nothing and watch businesses like the Body Blitz Spa shut down because people were afraid to defend sanity.

And while you’re at it, you might want to work on what you’ll say when your kindergartner comes home and tells you that some women have a penis.

 

Coach Kennedy Goes to Court

Can a school district fire a football coach for praying?

That was the question considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals Monday morning in Seattle.

More broadly, however, the court was debating what an “establishment of religion” actually is.

Joe Kennedy used to coach football at Bremerton High School.  When he first started coaching, he began a routine of taking a knee at the fifty-yard line after games to prayer.  A few players noticed and started to join him.  After eight years, the post-game gathering and prayer became part of the Bremerton football tradition that would usually include players from the opposing team as well.

In 2016, someone complained to the administration who, after an investigation, asked Coach Kennedy to stop praying with the players. He agreed.

But then the school went one step further and told Kennedy that not only was he prohibited from praying with the players, but he was not allowed to kneel on the 50 yard-line alone and say a silent prayer after a games.

Coach Kennedy asked the school district to permit him to take a knee for fifteen to thirty seconds to say a silent prayer on the fifty-yard line.  The school district denied his requested accommodation and instead offered him the opportunity to pray in the press box or other location out of view of players or spectators.

When he refused to comply, he was fired.

Coach Kennedy filed a lawsuit against the school district requesting his job back.

Through his lawyers, Coach Kennedy argued that the First Amendment protects his right to personal religious expression, even while working as a government employee.

The Bremerton School District, along with a lawyer from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, argued that the sight of a football coach, dressed in school colors, and appearing to pray constituted an unconstitutional establishment of a religion.

The First Amendment’s “establishment clause” historically meant that the government cannot have an official state religion.

Over the years, however, the phrase has been taken to mean that the state cannot prefer one religion over another.  Meaning, you can’t create opportunities for Baptists that aren’t available for Hindu’s and Seventh Day Adventists.

Others less tolerant of religious expression have argued that the “establishment clause” does not simply require the government to treat all religions equally but actually prohibit any appearance of state support of religion.

That is the position the school district appears to be taking in the case.

The school districts argued that if a coach, while acting in their capacity as a coach, were allowed to take a knee and pray, it would create the appearance that the school itself favors one particular religion.  Any kind of prayer in front of students, they argued, creates a subtle pressure for students to participate or agree.

Kennedy’s layers countered that a brief, silent prayer, even on a knee, is personal religious expression similar to wearing a cross, headscarf, or yarmulke.  Those forms of expression are indisputably protected by the First Amendment.

Kennedy’s lawyers argued that personal expressions of faith do not create pressure for observers or students because no reasonable person would see a football coach on a knee in prayer and conclude the public school for whom he worked was endorsing that coach’s religious beliefs.

The Court acknowledged that the outcome in this case would have implications for other public employees.

Throughout the arguments, the Court and lawyers wrestled with the question of whether the school district should be permitted to fire  a lunchroom monitor for bowing a head in prayer.  Presumably, students would observe that as well.

One of the justices seemed to lament the opportunity the school district lost to teach students about the need to make room for the religious beliefs of individuals without imposing those beliefs on others.

Joe Kennedy wants to coach football again.  But not at any cost.

Now, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will determine whether there is room in public schools for coaches who make public, personal expressions of faith.

Whatever decision they reach, an appeal is likely.

Stay tuned to FPIW.org for updates on this case and all the other issues affecting your religious freedom.

 

How the Easter Bunny and Gender are impacting Foster Parents

Over the weekend I wrote about  new guidelines in Illinois disqualifying those who believe anatomy determines gender from being foster parents.

Apparently that’s the modern equivalent of being a flat-earther.

Well, it turns out Illinois isn’t the only one heading this direction.

The government of Ontario Canada recently passed Bill 89 which authorizes the government to remove children from the home of a caregiver if they feel gender is fixed. 

The money quote is from Michael Coteau, the Minister of Child and Family Services, who introduced the bill. “I would consider that a form of abuse, when a child identifies one way and a caregiver is saying no, you need to do this differently,” Coteau explained. “If it’s abuse, and if it’s within the definition, a child can be removed from that environment and placed into protection where the abuse stops.”

Set aside the absurd assertion that the truth about gender is abusive and consider the precedent being established and how it could affect you and your family, even if you aren’t foster parents.

The argument goes, “It is abusive to tell a child their anatomy determines their gender.  Therefore, children can be removed from the homes of caregivers who tell their children that.”

The obvious follow-up question is, “why would we tolerate abuse anywhere?”

If it is abusive, what sense does it make to allow biological parents to “abuse” their biological children?

The path from here to removing children from any home is very short.

There’s another layer to this Canada story, however, that places this in the category of “truth is stranger than fiction.”

In April of this year, foster parents in Ontario sued the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society for removing children from their home.

The parents claim the children were removed because they refused to tell the children that the Easter Bunny was real.   “We have a no-lying policy”, Derek Baars, the foster dad, told the National Post.  The Baars recounted a meeting with a social worker who told them they were required to affirm the existence of the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause to the children, 4 and 2, in their care. 

Mr. Baars said, “We said that we would neither confirm nor deny the existence of these two mythical creatures but were not prepared to lie.”

This seems too strange, even for progressives.

My suspicion is that the Baars refusal to affirm the existence of the Easter Bunny simply tipped the case worker off to the fact that this family is Christian, which is their real concern.

That being said, there is something oddly consistent about being required to deny the connection between biology while also being required to affirm the existence of the Easter Bunny.

For some, reality really is unimportant once they are convinced a fantasy will make their audience feel better.

 

Then They Came for the Foster Parents and Farmers…

You know about the photographers, florists, bakers, adoption agencies, coaches, chaplains, counselors, fire chiefs, innkeepers, and printers who have been targeted because of their beliefs about marriage, sexuality, or gender.

This week, however, two new groups are being targeted by the tolerance gestapo: foster parents and farmers.

First, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services developed new “enhanced” policies that claim to promote the “well-being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning children and youth in the Department’s care”.

How do they aim to protect these children?

By slashing the number of families who can be foster parents.

The new rules establish an ideological test to care for the most vulnerable children in our community.  According to the guidelines, all children have a “right to self-determination of gender and sexual orientation” and individual choices about “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression” should be views as “developmental milestones, not problematic behavior.”

As a result, “staff, providers, and foster parents” must “support and respect” a children’s exploration “without any effort to direct or guide them to any specific outcomes for their exploration.”

Once upon a time, we believed it was beneficial for children to have input from adults who could provide a perspective that might not be obvious to their developing little brains.

Now, the job of foster parents in Illinois is to celebrate whatever decision the abandoned, hurt, likely traumatized child they are sacrificially caring for makes without judgment.  Food and shelter, yes.  Wisdom, life experience, and perspective? Absolutely not.

If you think anatomy is connected to gender, your help with foster kids won’t be needed.

Besides, no one who believes that has ever contributed anything meaningful to the world, have they?

Meanwhile, progressives in East Lansing, Michigan are confronting a similarly ominous threat to public health and safety: Catholic farmers who believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.

Steve Tennes owns Country Mill Farms in Charlotte, Michigan and for the last six years, East Lansing has invited Country Mill to participate in its Farmer’s market and has described them as a “model vendor.”

But, as fate would have it, he’s conservative.  He claims he was born that way, but progressives are sure he can change if he tries hard enough.

Mr. Tennes, living as his authentic self, has stated publicly that he is not willing to host same-sex wedding at his farm.

In Michigan, that is a perfectly legal choice.

Less tolerant states like Washington force people to do things that violate their conscience.

Nevertheless, East Lansing decided that the farms unwillingness to host a same-sex “wedding” violated their city ordinance against discrimination.

There’s one glaring problem with this. Their farm isn’t in East Lansing. The Tennes’s farm can’t violate an East Lansing ordinance any more than it can violate the Code of Hammurabi .

Undeterred by the semantics of actual jurisdiction, the city created a policy that requires vendors to comply with the ordinance while at the market and “as a general business practice”.

Meaning, if you do things we don’t allow someplace where it is allowed you can’t do business here.

The bigotry is transparent.

In any other context, a proposal like this wouldn’t pass the straight face test in the city council meeting.

The City has every right to establish building codes, but can you imagine the city telling home builders that they must comply with East Lansing building codes in other jurisdictions?

It has never happened because it is obviously stupid.

The only reason it wasn’t laughed out of the room in this case is because the witch hunting impulse among many on the left is strong.

The impulse to punish is just as strong as the impulse to coerce.

“Even if you haven’t violated our arcane, illiberal rules, we have to figure out how to make an example out of you because your ideas are dangerous.”

“Because we love tolerance, of course.”

This isn’t just uncivil, in this case it’s also illegal.

The First Amendment exists to stop governments from making laws that punish people because of what they believe.

The dunkers can’t make life harder for the sprinklers if they win an election, nor can the believers make rules that target atheists for being different.

This new ordinance was written specifically to keep Country Mill Farm out of the Farmer’s Market because of what they believe despite the fact that they haven’t even been accused of violating any laws.

Thanks to the help of our friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Tennes’s have filed a lawsuit asking the court to throw out East Lansing’s ordinance.

While they will fight it out in court, this case provides an important lesson for the rest of us.

Five short years ago, before marriage was redefined, the left assured us that “No one is going to lose their religious freedom.”

After marriage was redefined, they quickly they moved to, “You must abide by our laws, even if they violate your religious freedom.”

Now, at least in East Lansing, we have arrived at, “Even if you abide by our laws, we’ll look for ways to harm you just because we don’t like you.”

This is not what “live and let live” was supposed to look like.

It remains unclear whether East Lansing will require those who believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman to wear an outward symbol of their status in the community—a  yellow star perhaps.

The White Church’s Problem with “Politics”

Race matters.  Not in the sense that it makes people more or less valuable, but in the sense that income, health, marriage rates, crime, and educational achievement, and much, much more all have racial components.

However, you probably haven’t ever thought about the relationship between race and a church’s willingness to engage in “politic issues”.

I know I hadn’t.

Until very recently.

I find myself, once again, part of an effort (Initiative 1552, more information at www.JustWantPrivacy.org) to require schools to maintain separate locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms for student’s based on their sex. This is now a strangely controversial idea.

Washington State law currently says that students (and anyone else for that matter) have a legal right to access facilities based on the gender that they express or identify with.

A lot of us think this is a bad idea.

Within the church world, most people have an appreciation for the fact that God made people male and female, and while we can have compassion for the real distress people who experience gender dysphoria have, the best solution is not pretending that biology doesn’t matter.

As a result, most churches agree that your gender is something you are born with, not something you discover.

But you’d be surprised at how hard of a sell it is to ask a church to take what they know to be true and apply it in a tangible way. Particularly when it comes to “political issues”.

I put that term in quote because no issues are inherently political. All issues are ultimately about what is true or false, better or worse.  What we refer to as “politics” is simply a process for resolving those questions.  We have created a category of “political issues” that we have given ourselves permission to ignore, in some cases, as a way of avoiding the hard conversations.

“We can’t do that. We want to create a safe space for people to hear the gospel and those issues are divisive.”

“We don’t want to jeopardize our tax-exempt status.”

“That’s not our model of ministry.”

“We just preach Christ and Him crucified.  Politics is a distraction from what’s most important.”

Always followed immediately by, “But I want you to know I’m personally very supportive and so thankful you’re doing what you’re doing.”

In other words, “I hope we win, we just shouldn’t try very hard.”

There’s something unique about these arguments that didn’t dawn on me until recently.

There must be exceptions to this rule somewhere, but as far as I can tell, the only churches making these arguments are white, conservative churches.  Of course not every white, conservative church takes this position, but the ones that do have that in common.

Strange, isn’t it?

I have spent the last nine years living at the intersection of church and politics and interacted with hundreds of churches and pastors. Maybe thousands.

I have never heard an ethnic church of any kind, be it Russian, African American, Romanian, Chinese, Ukrainian, Korean, or Hispanic, make the argument that engagement on a political issue would be inappropriate in the same way I hear almost daily from white conservative churches.

Why? I can’t speak for other people, but I can speculate.

Many in Slavic and Chinese churches have personal experience with totalitarian forms of government and many saw their families punished because of their faith.

Maybe that’s why they are genuinely excited to use their influence to try to make their community a better place now that they finally have some.  I think they’d look at you funny if you said some version of, “you shouldn’t use it, you’re a church.  People might misunderstand.”

I’ve also never heard an African American church talk about the need to keep their faith-based convictions to themselves.  The heritage of so many black churches is one of fighting publicly for what is true, not despite their faith, but because of it.

I doubt the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would approve the message, “Don’t get involved.”

Hispanic churches do have hesitations with engaging in government, but not because they see it as in conflict with their primary mission.

Overtime, I had, without realizing it, developed an expectation that when I talk to an ethnic church I find support but when I talk to a white church I will find hesitation, if not opposition.

There are certainly exceptions to the latter, but none to the former.

Generally, ethnic churches are happy to help. Generally, white churches will either say no or send it to a committee.

Of course, not all white churches are opposed to political engagement.  Just conservative ones.

Progressive churches are downright enthusiastic about it.  In many cases, they advertise their political leanings and convictions about the day’s most controversial issues on signs and flag poles outside their churches in ways that would make even engaged conservative churches blush.

The next time I hear a progressive church talk about how important it is to keep their morality inside the four walls of their church will be the first.

In fact, the campaign to maintain unisex locker rooms in public schools, Washington Won’t Discriminate, was launched inside of a church with a cross as the backdrop in every picture.

Their current headline on their Facebook Page is “Washington Faith Leaders Say No On I-1552” with a picture and quote from a man in a collar headlining a public letter from a number of religious people talking about how discriminatory it is to suggest that someone with a penis not be allowed to undress in front of a 7 year-old girl.

If history is any indication, this campaign will feature far more “faith leaders” publicly opposing God’s understanding of sex and gender than supporting it.

That isn’t because faith leaders as a group have come to realize that God sometimes makes mistakes and puts people in the wrong body, but because on every issue in Washington State, progressive faith leaders are far more public about how their beliefs apply to cultural debates than those who believe the Bible.

That’s just the way it is.

And it’s not just a progressive church v. conservative church phenomenon.  Though that difference is stark. Within conservative churches, it is white churches v. everyone else.

Why?

I’m not sure I know the answer. But at this point, I’m awfully curious.


If you and your church would like to participate in Signature Sunday on June 4th to help I-1552 qualify for the ballot, you can do so by clicking here.

Judicial Magicians on the Seventh Circuit: Hively v. Ivy Tech

Failing to gain enough popular support for its radical social agenda, the progressive Left routinely attempts to skirt the legislative process and implement its policies through judicial fiat. The latest example of this strategy was on display last month in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech.

Kimberly Hively, an open lesbian and adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, repeatedly sought but was denied an opportunity to interview for full-time employment at the college. Naturally, she filed suit, claiming that Ivy Tech discriminated against her based on her sexual orientation.

Undeterred by the fact that federal law does not prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, Hively sued under Title VII, the statute that forbids sex discrimination. The law states in part:

“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

The phrase “sexual orientation” is conspicuously absent from this provision. Nonetheless, Hively insisted that Title VII forbids employers from making decisions based on an employee’s sexual orientation because the term “sex” covers sexual orientation. Nearly a dozen plaintiffs before Hively (and likely dozens more) have made a similar argument in courts across the country, though most judges have found it unconvincing. Hively, however, managed to find a sympathetic ear at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest federal court in the circuit covering Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, and a sister circuit to the much-maligned and regularly overturned Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Dismissing not only the court’s own prior rulings but the rulings of all nine federal circuit courts to consider the matter, a majority of judges on the Seventh Circuit held that Hively could sue for sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII. Like pulling rabbits out of hats, these magicians in judges’ robes conjured up a law that forbids sexual orientation discrimination where a law forbidding only sex discrimination exists. A quick examination of the majority’s argument reveals the deceitful method behind the “magic.”

The Trick

So how does the majority equate sex discrimination with sexual orientation discrimination? Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Diane Wood begins by accepting as true Hively’s allegation that Ivy Tech refused to interview her because she is a homosexual. So far, so good.[1]  Next, however, Wood claims that, had Hively been a man married to a woman rather than a woman married to a woman, Ivy Tech would not have refused to interview her for a promotion. Because Ivy Tech treated a female employee differently from the way it treats male employees, Hively’s case boils down to a classic example of sex-based discrimination. Or so it would seem.

The problem is that the language used in the law is not ambiguous. As dissenting Judge Diane Sykes observes, no reasonable, English-speaking individual could read the law and conclude that it bans discrimination because of sexual orientation. Therefore, the court should not have reached beyond the plain meaning of the language to interpret the statute.

Yet because a plain reading of the law would reach a result that she personally found objectionable, Wood went to create ambiguity where none existed. To mask her dishonest interpretive method, she surreptitiously shifts the audience’s attention from the identity trait at issue (homosexuality) to an activity (intimate association with women).

Pulling Back the Curtain

As any reasonable person in this day and age could tell you, identifying as a homosexual is not the same as intimately associating with a person of the same sex. While one may result in the other, the two are conceptually distinct; an individual may identify as a homosexual—that is, someone who is romantically and sexually attracted to members of the same sex—without being in an actual relationship with a member of the same sex. Moreover, one would imagine that if Ivy Tech did object to hiring or promoting homosexual individuals, it would not matter if that individual was married or dating a same-sex individual; the objectionable trait alone (being gay) would suffice. By shifting focus from sexual orientation to intimate association, Wood is then able to draw a comparison between Hively and a straight, male employee that would lead a less-than-attentive reader to conclude that sex discrimination has taken place.

Leftist judges habitually apply this kind of reasoning in similar cases. Take the case of Barronelle Stutzman, who was sued by a longtime customer when she declined to serve as a florist for his upcoming same-sex wedding, or Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who incurred the wrath of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries when they declined to bake a custom cake for a gay couple’s wedding ceremony. In both suits, the small business owners did not object to their customers’ homosexuality, but to participating in a ceremony solemnizing an arrangement that offended their personal beliefs.

Yet like the Seventh Circuit in Hively, the Washington Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals deliberately ignored the difference between the trait and the activity and ruled against the small business owners. These federal judges—each of whom swore to uphold the rule of law—simply decided that their personal views take precedence over a plain reading of the statute. Thanks to their dishonest interpretive methods, small business owners across the country are now forced to choose between their conscience and their livelihood.

Unfortunately, Ivy Tech has announced that it will not appeal, meaning that the Supreme Court will not have an opportunity to correct the Seventh Circuit’s flawed logic in the near future. However, given the existing circuit split and the fact that the notoriously Left-leaning Ninth Circuit has yet to consider the matter, there is still a good chance that the Court will have that opportunity in the years to come.

 

[1] At the dismissal motion stage, the court accepts that the claims brought by the Plaintiff are true to determine whether the Plaintiff has a legitimate legal complaint.


Christina is a freelance legal blogger from the “other” Washington (Washington, D.C.). She received her law degree from American University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.