Discrimination Hub




Tobias Wolff: ‘Hobby Lobby Decision Supports The Enforceability Of Anti-Discrimination Laws’

Wolff

As pointed out yesterday by Rachel Maddow, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby, religious groups have already begun seeking “religious freedom” exemptions from an executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people. While alarm bells have begun to ring for many gay rights advocates, University of Pennsylvania law professor and Obama legal adviser Tobias Wolff has issued a statement that may be intended to allay fears about any potential detrimental impact that Hobby Lobby could have on LGBT rights. Wolff argues that Hobby Lobby does not open the floodgates of state sanctioned anti-gay discrimination on the grounds of first amendment religious exceptionalism, but rather is more limited in scope and in fact upholds anti-discrimination protections.

Wolff writes,

It is important to understand that Hobby Lobby in fact rejects the argument that religious exercise can be an excuse for invidious discrimination. The following is the key passage of the decision, which the Court inserted specifically to respond to the suggestion that its ruling could authorize discrimination in the workplace:

"The principal dissent raises the possibility that discrimination in hiring, for example on the basis of race, might be cloaked as religious practice to escape legal sanction. See post, at 32-33. Our decision today provides no such shield. The Government has a compelling interest in providing an equal opportunity to participate in the workforce without regard to race, and prohibitions on racial discrimination are precisely tailored to achieve that critical goal.” […] 

- In this passage from Hobby Lobby, the Court…makes clear that laws and policies that prohibit discrimination in the workplace are "precisely tailored to achieve that critical goal". In other words, it is the act of discriminating itself -- which deprives the individual worker of "an equal opportunity to participate in the workforce" -- that inflicts the harm that the government has a compelling interest to eradicate. This passage strongly repudiates the argument that opponents sometimes make that there is no compelling interest in enforcing anti-discrimination laws if a person could find another job or patronize another business. Every act of private discrimination works a serious harm that the government has a compelling interest in eradicating.

In the days ahead, it is important that advocates and leaders strongly push out the message that the Hobby Lobby decision strongly supports the enforceability of anti-discrimination laws, even in the face of religious exemption arguments. Hobby Lobby represents a vindication of the principle that anti-discrimination protections should trump religious objections in the workplace.

You can read Wolff’s full statement, AFTER THE JUMP…

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Rachel Maddow On How The SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Ruling Is Already Being Used To Justify Anti-Gay Discrimination: VIDEO

Rachel

Last night Rachel Maddow took time to focus on the broad and dangerous impact of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, particularly, how the claim of “religious freedom" is already being used by religious groups to justify anti-gay discrimination:

"These groups want their religious beliefs to excuse them from having to follow the law on, not just contraception, not just health law rules, but on non-discrimination. They now, because of this ruling, want a religious exemption from laws that say you can't fire someone for being gay. They want to be able to fire people for being gay because they think God wants that."

Watch the segment, AFTER THE JUMP...

You can also read Ari Ezra Waldman's incisive analysis of the Hobby Lobby ruling HERE

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St. Petersburg, Flordia Gay Resort Sues County For Discrimination

Cabana

In an interesting legal kerfuffle, a St. Petersburg, Florida Resort has sued Pinellas County, questioning the line between niche markets and discrimination, according to The Tampa Bay Times. Representatives from the hotel in question, The Flamingo Resort (pictured), are claiming that the establishment's tax bill is too high, and that this is because they cater to a gay clientele.

Pinellas Property Appraiser Pam Dubov is familiar with a previous complaint of The Flamingo Resort's, and she doubts the validity of this new one. Said Dubov: "I categorically deny that we have any intent toward discrimination against the gay and lesbian community."

Dubov gives an example of how appraisers ballpark a property's value. For example, a restaurant that markets itself to small children might do less business, but it does not change the value of the property where the restaurant sits. In the example of The Flamingo Resort, the establishment took in $673,222 in 2012, but the property appraiser calculated a potential $1.1 million

The reasons given for this valuation were numerous. The building is old and requires considerable maintenance, there have been no renovations on the resort since construction, and the Flamingo operates under a 28 percent occupancy rate. According to the board records, the representative is specifically quoted as saying the hotel is "functionally obsolete" because of "the substandard location, and older furniture, fixtures and equipment that cannot be updated."

The board is also quoted as saying "It is difficult to determine whether or not this property could generate more net operating income if it did not appeal to a niche market."


Openly Gay Singer Will Young Tweets Homophobic Incident On Pride Day - VIDEO

Will young facebook

Will Young, an openly gay singer who found fame in the first series of English television talent show Pop Idol in 2002, took to Twitter to rant about a June 28 homophobic incident.

Young said that he was told to stop hugging his boyfriend because “it was offending another 'conservative' (read homophobic) spa visitor.”

The singer has yet to reveal where the incident took place but has since announced that it has been resolved.

Will young twitter

Flash back and watch Will Young perform on Pop Idol, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Economist Condemns Homophobia Using Economic Impacts

Lee Badgett

Combating homophobia based on theology and "sincerely held" personal beliefs can be a nigh-insurmountable task given the high degree of subjectivity involved in both. Economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Lee Badgett decided she would try a different angle to show that homophobia has quantifiable adverse impacts on society: economics.

Badgett created a case study using an economic model that she applied to India and submitted the preliminary findings to the World Bank earlier this year. Those findings showed that homophobia,

...leads to less education, lower earnings, poorer health and shorter lives. The lost workplace productivity and health problems connected with homophobia cost the United States between $2 billion and $31 billion in 2012.

The wide range is attributed to the scarcity of data on sexual minorities. In addition, she debunked the myth that gay men are flush with cash and showed that gay men actually earn 11-27% less than their heterosexual counterparts. 

Now to stand by and wait with bated breath for the Tea Party, who have long insisted that their party's focus is primarily about economic growth, to roundly condemn anti-gay discrimination.


South Carolina Police Chief Crystal Moore, Fired For Being Lesbian, Officially Reinstated

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After a two-month controversy, former Latta, South Carolina police chief Crystal Moore has returned to her old position despite a temporary firing by Mayor Earl Bullard. Following a successful vote on Friday, wherein the Town Council overturned Bullard's firing of Moore and hiring of a new police chief, Moore was officially reinstated. Head to the twitter feed of SC reporter Liz Cooper, who live tweeted the event, where many Latta citizens showed their support for Moore, a town fixture who has held her position for 23 years.

In addition to Cooper's photos, SC Equality has a couple shots featuring Moore. Check them out, AFTER THE JUMP...

[h/t HuffPo]

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