Despite all of the progress made so far on LGBT rights, on Tuesday, Louisiana voted to uphold the state’s anti-sodomy law, 67-27, despite it being ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, in their landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.
In its decision, the court ruled that laws prohibiting sodomy seek “to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals.”
Unless you live in Louisiana?
In fact, in addition to Louisiana and Texas, Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas and Oklahoma have all maintained their own anti-sodomy laws, despite their direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision. In three of these states — Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — such anti-sodomy laws pertain exclusively to “homosexual conduct.”
The Louisiana bill in question, HB12, proposed to amend “crime against nature…” and was introduced in January by State House Representative Patricia Smith (D-Baton Rouge). Although it seems painfully obvious that there is no reason on Earth to maintain such a law, Smith’s proposed bill was a direct response to the targeted arrests of gay men in her district who were profiled and lured by undercover police to agree to consensual sex. At least 12 men have been arrested in this “sodomy sting” since 2011, despite the fact that prosecutors refused to bring charges in every single case.
Among those big unanswered questions lurking in the shadows of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties is whether or not RFRA could be used to undermine existing protections against discrimination, like those under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the federal law that outlaws discrimination on the basis of a host of factors, including sex. Add to that question the role of state-level RFRAs like the one recently passed in Mississippi, which appears to be an open invitation for businesses to discriminate in the name of religious belief, plus the fact that state and local anti-discrimination laws, when they exist at all, ofter a patchwork of protections, and the legal landscape that emerges is frankly a mess.
Title VII prevents employers from discriminating in their employment practices (such as hiring, firing, and promotions and pay) based on race and color, sex, national origin, and religion. The law includes a broad exemption for religious employers and provides that houses of worship and religiously affiliated organizations like universities and hospitals may discriminate in employment practices on the basis of religion, allowing them to prefer members of their own faith in hiring regardless if the employee’s work is religious in nature or not.
But Title VII does not recognize a religious exemption to its prohibition on sex discrimination. That’s important in the context of the contraception challenges, and as more and more employers voice workplace objections to gender equality as an issue of religious freedom.
Despite the fact that the government moved to dismiss TerVeer’s claims, it is important to note that Chai Feldblum, commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and key advocate behind advancing workplace protections for the LGBT community, has made the case that marriage equality helps pave the way for workplace protections under existing laws like Title VII. Feldblum argues:
[A]ssume a male employee is fired because he marries another man. The reason for that employee’s firing makes reference to the sex of the people involved, and the antipathy to marriage by a same-sex couple is deeply embedded in a history of gender roles and sex stereotypes. From my perspective, that is a simple case of sex discrimination.
In other words, like the administration’s position on marriage equality, its position on workplace protections for the LGBT community appears to be evolving.
I saw the photo on the Mother Jones article that Rightwing Watch linked to in this story. Its the first link. Chris McDaniel is just another “totally not racist” Republican.
Mississippi’s Chris McDaniel isn’t the only Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who has allied with neo-Confederate activists. Warren Throckmorton reports today that Bill Flynn, a radio talk show host seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Democrat Kay Hagan in North Carolina, is a close partner of the Institute on the Constitution’s David Whitney and has taught courses through the Institute. Whitney wrote on the group’s website last week:
Our Institute On The Constituion [sic] Host Bill Flynn in Triad region of North Carolina announced his candidacy for the United States Senate race this past Sunday. Bill hosts a morning radio show on WEGO (980 AM). Bill has not only taught our U.S. Constitution course he was my co-host on the Constitutional Cruise, All Aboard America this past March. Bill is a good friend and patriot.
Whitney is the chaplain of the Maryland chapter of the League of the South, a neo-confederate hate group that promotes white nationalism.
JACKSON, Miss. - It’s an unremarkable plot of land, nestled between the state’s archives, fairgrounds and Capitol building, but history will be made there Thursday when state officials and civil rights leaders gather to break ground for the country’s first state-funded civil rights museum.
Built in conjunction with a new state history museum erected on the same site, both are scheduled to open in 2017 in time for the state’s bicentennial. The two museums will be built “side-by-side” as the locals say, and will be connected to one another by a common entryway, sharing classroom space, an auditorium and resources.
With its violent history of hate crimes and staunch resistance to the civil rights movement, it might surprise some that Mississippi would be the first state to fund the building of a civil rights museum, signaling the beginning of a major change in race relations in one of the most historically segregated states in the country.
“This is going to make a powerful statement I think, not only to the state but to the country,” said William Winter, a Democrat and governor from 1980 to 1984. “That in Mississippi, we now understand the importance of the participation of both races of black folks and white folks working together, to build a state, and out of that come the mutual respect and understanding of our common humanity at the same time that we understand the differences of the history that go into our respective backgrounds.”
Winter is a major supporter of what’s been dubbed the 2 Mississippi Museums Project, for years advocating better race relations between blacks and whites in the south through The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.
“I think it’s appropriate, I think it’s the right thing to do and I think this is the right place to do it,” he said.
JACKSON, Miss. — If a girl younger than 16 gives birth and won’t name the father, a new Mississippi law — likely the first of its kind in the country — says authorities must collect umbilical cord blood and run DNA tests to prove paternity as a step toward prosecuting statutory rape cases.
Supporters say the law is intended to chip away at Mississippi’s teen pregnancy rate, which has long been one of the highest in the nation. But critics say that though the procedure is painless, it invades the medical privacy of the mother, father and baby. And questions abound: At roughly $1,000 a pop, who will pay for the DNA tests in the country’s poorest state? Even after test results arrive, can prosecutors compel a potential father to submit his own DNA and possibly implicate himself in a crime? How long will the state keep the DNA on file?
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant says the DNA tests could lead to prosecution of grown men who have sex with underage girls.
“It is to stop children from being raped,” said Bryant, who started his career as a deputy sheriff in the 1970s. “One of the things that go on in this state that’s always haunted me when I was a law-enforcement officer is seeing the 14- and 15-year-old girl that is raped by the neighbor next door and down the street.”
But Bear Atwood, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, said it’s an invasion of privacy to collect cord blood without consent of the mother, father and baby. She also said that an underage girl who doesn’t want to reveal the identity of her baby’s father might skip prenatal care: “Will she decide not to have the baby in a hospital where she can have a safe, happy, healthy delivery?”
Mississippi’s state Supreme Court is currently considering a case that could lead to women being prosecuted for manslaughter if they miscarry or otherwise experience unintentional pregnancy loss, according to a report from Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones.
In 2009, two months after Nina Buckhalter’s pregnancy ended in stillbirth, a Mississippi grand jury indicted her for manslaughter, citing her use of methamphetamine while pregnant as “culpable negligence.” Buckhalter’s attorneys challenged the charge; the Supreme Court hearing began in April and a ruling is expected soon.
Buckhalter’s lawyers, as well as reproductive health advocates in Mississippi and across the country, contend that the charges, in addition to criminalizing countless women, could deter women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction during pregnancy from seeking prenatal care or treatment for substance abuse for fear of being prosecuted and create barriers to safe abortion care.
Slippery slope alert - If not taking care of yourself when you are pregnant because of the negative effects on the developing fetus be legislated then why can’t sending your kids to a school that teaches creationism so that when they grow-up, they can’t work any other place but Walmart be?
The law requires all OB-GYNs who do abortions at Jackson Women’s Health Organization to have privileges to admit patients to a local hospital.
Jordan’s ruling comes three days before the state Department of Health was scheduled to hold a license revocation hearing for the clinic over its acknowledged inability to get the admitting privileges. Now the administrative hearing won’t be held, said health department spokeswoman Liz Sharlot.
Jordan’s ruling says the state cannot close the clinic while it still has a federal lawsuit pending to challenge the 2012 law. A trial date has not been set.
The Department of Health notified Jackson Women’s Health Organization in late January that it intended to revoke the clinic’s license. The clinic was allowed to stay open as it awaited this week’s hearing.
A Mississippi police chief says there’s nothing to suggest that the death of state Rep. Jessica Upshaw was anything other a suicide. The 53-year-old Republican lawmaker died Sunday of a gunshot wound to the head. (March 25)
JACKSON, Miss. — Law enforcement agents on Wednesday afternoon confirmed that the body found near the Mississippi River in Coahoma County is that of Clarksdale mayoral candidate Marco McMillian, who had been missing since early Tuesday.
The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department made the announcement at a news conference.
The body was found around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday near the levee between Sherard and Rena Lara.
A person of interest has been taken into custody, but sheriff’s officials didn’t provide the name or where the person is being held. The Clarion Ledger reported that authorities have identified the person as Lawrence Reed, 22, of Clarksdale.
Charges haven’t been filed.
It was probably only a matter of time before Mississippi got on board with the newest GOP trend. A fetal heartbeat bill introduced earlier this month contains almost identical language to a similar measure put forth in Arkansas last year.
A person who intends to perform an abortion on a
pregnant woman shall determine if there is the presence of a fetal
heartbeat of the unborn human individual that the pregnant woman
is carrying according to standard medical practice. A person
shall comply with this paragraph (b) regardless of whether or not
the State Board of Health has promulgated rules under paragraph
(c) of this subsection (3).
(c) The State Board of Health may promulgate rules for
the appropriate methods of performing an examination for the
presence of a fetal heartbeat of an unborn human individual based
on standard medical practice.
As was mentioned in the earlier LGF article, “standard medical practice” means that, this early in a pregnancy (1st trimester) the only way to detect a fetal heartbeat is by transvaginal ultrasound.
Here’s the full text of the bill. I encourage you to read the whole thing, they use a number of questionable “facts” as rationale for this measure.
In summary, the bill opens by spouting statistics indicating that the majority of pregnancies in which a fetal heartbeat can be detected have a good chance of making it to term. Therefore, fetal heartbeat, according to the bill, is an excellent measure of the viability of a pregnancy.
There’s little more I can say on this that hasn’t been said already, but suffice to say I still find myself double checking my calendar to make sure it really is 2013.