We’re open to ideas for the Feminist Friday discussion

Most of you know by now we host a Feminist Friday discussion almost every week someplace in the blogosphere. Diana and I are planning for this week. Before we decide to host it at Part Time Monster, I just want to poll the regular participants and supporters. I know several of you have ideas for posts and some of you are open to hosting. Would you like to write the post or host this week?

If so, I need to know by 7 p.m. EDT (U.S., New York time) tomorrow, so we can either make plans to announce the venue and get the word out or brainstorm a Friday post at the Monster.

An Unavoidably Political Post, and Don’t Forget about Feminist Friday!

First things first. Diana will have the Feminist Friday post at Part Time Monster this week. We took last weekend off, so we’re hoping for a good discussion this week.

I haven’t been around on the social media this week very much because I’ve been doing a lot of writing.  I briefed a Supreme Court case that deals with religious liberties and contraception yesterday. I added my opinion at the end. That didn’t get a lot of looks, and it’s not surprising. You can only expect so much out of a legal brief on a pop culture blog, and when that legal brief mentions both religion and politics, well. You know. The number of views doesn’t matter, though. A few people read it. It was something that had to be written and had to be published, by me, this week.

I followed up with a discussion of the consequences of the decision and further developments today. That one did better, and that makes sense, too, because it’s newsy. Newsy posts always do better than legal analysis unless your audience happens to be full of attorneys. Sadly, comments on that post were accidentally disabled all day. So I have no idea whether anyone wanted to comment or not. Comments are enabled now, though.

Even though those aren’t the two most popular posts I’ve ever written, I’m glad I published them, and here’s why. They helped me connect some dots. As many of you know, I’ve been writing about the need for LGBTQ people to have full equality in the U.S. roughly every two weeks now for about 4 months. I’ve also started, with the help of many friends, a Feminist Friday discussion which has been hosted on several blogs and has managed to survive for 13 weeks or so. Both of those issues are issues of inequality. I’ve been trying to find a way to connect them in a way that isn’t forced and doesn’t offend anyone who’s actually with me on the issues. I’ve had a bit of a personal breakthrough on that.

I’ve identified cultural, political, and legal mechanisms that allow people to discriminate against all the groups encompassed by “LGBTQ” and “women.” Even if I haven’t spoken clearly enough for anyone else to see them yet, they exist, and I see them.

Breakthrough.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

 

Cards on the Table

Here I am in Mississippi. I’ve been trying to get out for well and good all my life. Mississippi is like a cage for the soul, but that’s not to say it’s a bad place.

We have nice weather, except during hurricane season. People mostly leave you alone and let you do your thing – as long as you’re a white, straight, MSEqualChristian, well-spoken man. If you’re black, gay, don’t believe in Jesus, stutter, or happen to be a woman, well. Mississippi might give you a bit of trouble.

Earlier this year, we had a nasty fight over a bill in the Legislature that was basically an argument over whether businesses could turn paying customers away because of their sexual orientation. Mississippi said no to that. I know because I watched the debate on the floor of the state house of representatives, and the house couldn’t pass it as it was originally written.

Instead, there was some fast talking, the bill went to a conference committee, some language was changed, it was passed while no one was looking, and the governor signed it.

So, what’s the point of even having representatives if they’re going to pass things while no one is looking, is my first question. Where’s the democracy in that? It’s more a mockery, really. The way Tolkien’s orcs are a mockery of elves. This was a perversion of the legislative process.

But something good came out of it. Now we have these little stickers, and t-shirts to go along with them.

IfUrBuying

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SB 2681, again. Discrimination back on the table. (With only 13 minutes to spare).

NOSB

Remember that Mississippi Senate Bill I spent a whole week stirring up outrage against? The one that so many people opposed, the MS House of Representatives was afraid to just go ahead and pass it on the floor? The one they amended to create a study committee? Well, I have no idea what the status of the study committee is in the bill that was filed at 7:47 tonight (the deadline was 8 p.m.). But look at what’s going back to both chambers for an up-or-down vote, and thanks to our friends at Deep South Progressive for telling us something the local news might not mention at all.

Section 1 of the bill says, “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection.”

In practical terms, for example, that would mean that a hotel or restaurant owner could refuse service to gay customers while claiming “exercise of religion” and government would have no recourse.

New to the bill is this, found in lines 16-18 of Section 1:

(b) Laws “neutral” toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise; (c) Government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification;

The target of this section seems to make it clear that the bill is meant to reach far beyond just attacking LGBT rights. In fact, it seems to hint at a case before the Supreme Court right now, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. In what could prove to be a landmark decision, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not corporations can refuse to provide female employees healthcare that includes birth control on the basis of religious belief (and thus whether or not corporations are people with all the rights people enjoy – including free exercise of religion).

The requirement that all healthcare plans include birth control for women may be one of those “neutral” laws that SB 2681 now mocks with quotation marks. This bill would make it clear that employers in Mississippi can refuse to comply with laws that don’t like on religious grounds. So if an employer who happens to be a Jehova’s Witness wants to deny employees access to healthcare that includes blood transfusions (which Jehova’s Witnesses are religiously opposed to), the government would have to provide a compelling justification before “interfering with” the employer’s “free exercise.”

If both houses agree to this travesty, it will land on the governor’s desk, and he will sign it. And since the senate’s already let us know how they feel, it’s time to contact your State Representative.

The towns that support Mississippi’s three largest state universities have all passed non-discrimination ordinances to ensure equality for LGBTQ Mississippians. This is about overturning those ordinances, and preempting other cities who are thinking about doing the same. Pure and simple.

Mississippi said no to this, State Legislature. This is not what we want. Get that through your thick skulls and move on. We want you to spend your time figuring out how to make the rest of us less poor, not overturning city ordinances we agree with.

Now I’ll say one more thing. Because if I can’t say this, what good is this blog? If you live in Wayne County, or Lamar County, and you are hanging your head in shame right now, you be sure you thank the Hon. Phillip Gandy and the Hon. Joey Fillingane for this disgrace. Their signatures are both on the conference report, and if it weren’t for them, the senate probably never would have taken up this bill to begin with.

 Note: Just found this out tonight. I’ll have more as I receive it. The ACLU and other organizations will have statements, and there will be a date and time for the vote. But do go ahead and scream at your representative, and if your senator’s name is on the conference report, find a way to let him know he just lost a registered voter forever. Gandy and Fillingane both represent counties where we have a lot of connections, and it doesn’t take that many votes to swing a state senate race. If you’re reading this and live in Mississippi, go take a look at your Facebook network and think about that for a minute.

Image via Campaign for Southern Equality on Facebook.