In its unending desire to mollify its intolerant, bigoted base, the GOP appears ready and willing to throw single women under the bus, along with the same-sex couples whom we already know they hate.
In wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Republicans are pushing legislation that aims to protect Americans who oppose these unions on religious grounds. But critics say the language is so broad, the bill creates a license to discriminate that would let employers fire women for getting pregnant outside of wedlock.
The legislation, already with 130 Republican sponsors in the House and a companion bill in the Senate, is nobly titled the "First Amendment Defense Act," but in real-world terms it has less to do with the free "exercise" of speech or religion, but with the right to impose one's bigotry (end economic power) on others, using "religion" as a fig leaf. Rightfully labelled "Indiana on steroids," the reactionary and mean-spirited bill would unravel anti-discrimination provisions applicable to federal contractors as well as provide so-called "protection" to religious broadcasters, charities and tax-exempt organizations by allowing them to fire with impunity same-sex couples who get married (notably, since there is no federal legislation barring discrimination against LGBT couples, such firings are already legal
in most states). According to the ACLU, this measure would also allow "Christian" organizations to turn away gay people from homeless shelters and drug programs. The text
of the proposed legislation, which seems certain to pass the House, is as follows:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.
As such, the legislation is bad enough and typical, hateful Republican fare. But as Dana Liebelson, writing
for Huffington Post
, points out, the highlighted language in the text, above, adds an even more pernicious nuance:
The bill specifically protects those who believe that marriage is between "one man and one woman" or that "sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage." Ian Thompson, a legislative representative at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that in addition to targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the bill "clearly encompasses discrimination against single mothers" and would hobble the ability of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal body that protects women from sex-based discrimination, to act.
Quite simply, the legislation clearly and unequivocally
provides an employer/boss with the option of firing women who conceive out of wedlock. All the employer needs is a "moral conviction" that single moms are a bad thing. Or he just may want to get you off the books because he thinks you'll ask for too much time off. Nor is this some "hypothetical" scenario:
There are a number of recent cases where religious schools have fired unwed teachers for becoming pregnant. A Montana Catholic school teacher who was fired for having a baby out of wedlock, for example, filed a discrimination charge last year with the EEOC. While the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws, that exception is somewhat limited, not necessarily covering educators employed by Catholic schools who teach about exclusively secular subjects.
Asked about this aspect of his companion legislation which includes the same language, Senator Mike Lee essentially agreed that was, in fact, the Bill's intent
When NPR asked Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who introduced the companion Senate bill, about a hypothetical university firing an unmarried woman for having sex out of wedlock, he said, "There are colleges and universities that have a religious belief that sexual relations are to be reserved for marriage" and they "ought to be protected in their religious freedom."
The Republicans love to deride Democrats for calling it a "War on Women." This legislation shows there is absolutely no better way of stating it.
The House Bill is HR 2802.
The Senate Bill is S. 1598.
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