Friday, December 23, 2016

Equal Opportunity To Hate

Republicans, now sensing that they can get away with pretty much anything they want to in the Trump Era, are swinging for the fences with new legislative priorities.  The big motif (as I've been warning about) is taking red state culture war and economic nonsense national in order to inflict them on blue states at the federal level, and our first contestant is none other than Ted Cruz.

Earlier this month, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Mike Lee of Utah, through his spokesperson, told Buzzfeed they plan to reintroduce an embattled bill that barely gained a House hearing in 2015. But this time around, they said, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was likely to succeed due to a Republican-controlled House and the backing of President-elect Donald Trump.

FADA would prohibit the federal government from taking "discriminatory action" against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: "(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage." 
Ironically, the language of the bill positions the right to discriminate against one class of Americans as a "first amendment" right, and bans the government from taking any form of action to curb such discrimination—including withholding federal funds from institutions that discriminate. FADA allows individuals and businesses to sue the federal government for interfering in their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people and would mandate the Attorney General defend the businesses. 
On December 9, Sen. Lee's spokesperson, Conn Carroll, told Buzzfeed the election of Trump had cleared a path for the passage of FADA. 
"Hopefully November's results will give us the momentum we need to get this done next year," Carroll said. "We do plan to reintroduce FADA next Congress and we welcome Trump's positive words about the bill."

The ridiculously broad bill would basically take Indiana's bill enshrining the right to discriminate as a federal law, specifically against LGBTQ folks, and take it national, forcing the government to take the side of the oppressor. It would turn the Justice Department's civil rights division into a weapon that would be used to allow people to openly discriminate against the LGBTQ community and most certainly would override all state-level protections in doing so.

It would be a nightmare.

It will almost certainly pass the House next year. The only question is how far it will get in the Senate.  Given Cruz's penchant for overplaying his hand, he's liable to piss off as many of his fellows in the Most August Deliberative Body as possible and the bill will die there.

We'll see.

But get used to this.  And should Democrats crumble in 2018 and the GOP get 60 seats, all civil rights and voting rights in this country will be subject to obliteration.

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