June 15 will be the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, holding that federal law prohibits employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers.
As if to mark the occasion, a group of anti-LGBT activists and churches based in Texas asked a federal judge this week to issue a sweeping ruling that could seriously undermine Bostock.
In its 6-3 decision last June, the high court affirmed that the prohibition on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling upheld a position that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which administers and enforces civil-rights laws, has taken since 2015.
The Texas-based group, which includes hate-group leader Steve Hotze (pictured) as well as the U.S. Pastor Council, is seeking exemptions to both Bostock and EEOC policy that would allow employers to discriminate against LGBT workers based on sincerely held religious beliefs, under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and/or the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment.
“The plaintiffs have sincere and deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is limited to a man and a woman, that sex is to be reserved for marriage, and that men and women are to dress and behave in accordance with distinct and God-ordained, biological sexual identity,” the plaintiffs wrote in a brief filed Monday. “Title VII, as interpreted in Bostock, requires that the plaintiffs operate their businesses contrary to their religious beliefs by denying them the ability to prescribe standards of conduct and deportment for their employees. At the same time, the plaintiffs believe that they are called by God to obey the civil authorities. So they are caught in a bind, and until this Court grants the declaratory relief that the plaintiffs seek, the plaintiffs have no way to avoid violating their religious beliefs.”
Moreover, the plaintiffs allege, Bostock should not bar employers from enacting policies, for religious or non-religious reasons, that target “practicing homosexual and transgender individuals” based on “homosexual or transgender conduct.”
“It is easy to imagine rules that comply with Bostock by applying equally to men and women, yet operate to exclude homosexual or transgender individuals from employment,” the plaintiffs wrote, before proposing the following examples:
• “No employee, male or female, may enter a gay bar or gay bathhouse.”
• “No employee, male or female, may engage in the sexual practices associated with homosexuality.”
• “No employee, male or female, may engage in ‘deviate sexual intercourse,’ as that term is defined in section 25.02 of the Texas Penal Code.”
• “No employee, male or female, may use Grindr (or other dating apps used primarily by homosexuals).”
• “No employee, male or female, may seek or obtain hormone therapy unless it is prescribed for a medical condition other than gender dysphoria.”
• “No employee, male or female, may undergo surgery to modify their genitals, unless that surgery is needed for a medical condition other than gender dysphoria.”
Elsewhere in the brief, the plaintiffs argue that Bostock should apply only to gay and transgender workers, and should not prohibit employers from discriminating against people of other sexual orientations, including bisexual folks.
In addition to summary judgment and a permanent injunction against the EEOC, the plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for their lawsuit. And, sadly, they seem likely to prevail — at least at the district court level.
The case is in the Fort Worth division of the Northern District of Texas, which is presided over by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, who is among the nation’s most notorious right-wing federal judges. O’Connor previously issued high-profile decisions striking down the Affordable Care Act and gutting Obama-era transgender protections.
Back in February, after O’Connor initially allowed the Bostock religious exemption lawsuit to move forward, LGBTQ advocates slammed the decision.
Adrian Shanker, executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, told the Philadelphia Gay News: “Judge O’Connor’s ruling misrepresents the clarity the Supreme Court provided in Bostock in favor of unnecessary and harmful religious exemptions to basic civil rights protections. Conservatives like to complain about judicial activism. But Judge O’Connor is the poster child for it with his repetitively fringe rulings that only a far-right zealot would find sensible. His ruling is a reminder that it is so critical that Congress passes explicit federal non-discrimination protections this year.”
Justin F. Robinette, a civil-rights attorney, told the newspaper he is expecting “another unfavorable ruling from Judge O’Connor and potential appeals.”
“The underlying lawsuit is part of a worrisome trend of putative Christian groups reframing the enforcement of LGBT-inclusive antibias laws as a form of discrimination against their religion,” Robinette said. “They want to create a right to discriminate that — taken to its extreme — would exempt them from every civil law, including the civil rights laws and the recent Supreme Court ruling in Bostock.”
Attorneys representing the EEOC from the Department of Justice have not yet filed a response to the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. You can read the plaintiffs’ brief in support of the motion below.
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Every House Republican But One Just Voted to Shut Down the Federal Government
212 House Republicans – all who voted but one – voted to shut down the entire federal government Thursday evening. It was an act that would have massive implications for many Americans, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, amid the emergence of a new variant, and as the holiday travel season quickly approaches.
The continuing resolution passed 221-212 thanks solely to Democrats and Republican Adam Kinzinger.
U.S. House PASSES CR funding government through February 18, 2022, 221-212.
Goes now to the U.S. Senate.
Current spending authority expires Friday at Midnight ET. pic.twitter.com/HGANxhoOCF
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 2, 2021
Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia “was speaking for virtually her entire conference,” Axios reporter Andrew Solender said in a tweet, when she demanded, “shut it down.”
“This government should be shut down,” Greene angrily cried . “Do not pass this CR. Shut it down.”
“Because the people in here cannot control themselves,” she continued, claiming they “don’t understand how to balance a checkbook.”
The crisis is not yet over. The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where a small group of Republicans, and currently it appears Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, are demanding Democrats “defund” President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate.
Watch: Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls for Government Shutdown Because ‘The People in Here Cannot Control Themselves’
Congress has about 30 hours to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to allow the federal government to stay open past Friday midnight. And while nearly everyone is on board, from President Joe Biden to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, some powerful members of Congress are trying to prevent the CR from passing.
They include Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who oppose vaccine mandates and are trying to include an amendment to “defund” President Biden’s executive order.
And then there’s Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who just wants to shut it down.
Literally, those were her words: “shut it down.”
“This government should be shut down,” Greene said minutes ago on the House floor, as Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman reports. “Do not pass this CR. Shut it down.”
Why is Greene demanding a full federal government shutdown?
“Because the people in here cannot control themselves,” declared Greene, who was stripped of all her committee assignments almost immediately upon being sworn in to Congress. “The people in here don’t understand how to balance a checkbook.”
“This government should be shut down.”
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) rails against the national debt and endorses a government shutdown. pic.twitter.com/NhP7aFOObl
— The Recount (@therecount) December 2, 2021
According to information from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget shutting down the federal government could force TSA and air traffic controllers to work without pay, and could halt new applications for federal assistance like Medicare, and halt EPA and FDA inspections – possibly leading to massive illness on top of the coronavirus pandemic, amid the emergence of the new omicron variant.
That’s just for starters.
New mortgage and loan approvals could be halted as the IRS would be unable to verify Social Security numbers, and people who receive food stamps could lose that vital source of funds.
Joe Manchin Appears to Be Siding With Republicans Who Are Pushing to Shut Down the Government Over Vaccine Mandates
‘Quickly Turning Into a Joe Manchin Rodeo’
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is being described as the necessary and “most likely” the “51st vote” for shutting down the federal government over President Joe Biden’s vaccine “mandate.” Republicans, especially Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, are working to pass an amendment that would ban vaccine mandates nationwide, in exchange for voting to keep the federal government open, just weeks before Christmas.
Sen. Mike Lee, a far right pro-Trump Christian conservative from Utah, “wants an amendment to strip money from vax mandates at 50-vote threshold.” says Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman. “If he gets it, he’ll consent to speed up proceedings, which would likely — almost certainly — avoid a shutdown.”
If he doesn’t, it’s possible the federal government could shut down on Friday.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) joins the growing list of Republicans who are calling to shut down the government over vaccine-or-testing mandates. pic.twitter.com/ffMddGpT1A
— The Recount (@therecount) December 2, 2021
The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis says “as with most things round these parts, this is quickly turning into a Joe Manchin rodeo.”
CNN’s Manu Raju adds that Sen. Manchin “doesn’t rule out supporting [an] amendment to DEFUND vaccine mandate on businesses. This is why Republican Sens. Marshall and Lee are demanding a 51-vote threshold. Says he backs mandate on feds but tells us he’s ‘less enthused’ with business mandate.”
At CNN Raju and other reporters explain the situation:
Key negotiators from both parties announced a plan Thursday morning that would keep the federal government funded, but due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators would need to agree in order to quickly pass the plan before Friday, and a handful of GOP senators are standing by their threats to delay the process over the vaccine rules.
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