Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How the religious right is conspiring to put discrimination back into law

By Chadwick Moore

In 1983, in Oregon, two men, Alfred Smith and Galen Black, were fired from their jobs as substance abuse counselors at a drug rehab clinic. Taking peyote is illegal in Oregon, as it is in most states. But the men were both members of the Native American Church, where peyote is used in religious ceremony, and the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the decision, stating that to deny the men unemployment benefits based on the religious use of a controlled substance violated the men’s First Amendment right to free expression of religion. Oregon appealed, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court twice. Now, the legislation born from that bag of peyote has set the legal stage for what’s being called the “partial-birth abortion” era for LGBT rights as lawsuits and conservative state governments, under the guise of protecting the religious freedom of Christians, attempt to chip away at the extraordinary surge forward of legal protections for queer people. [link]