Kansas’ Abominable Anti-Gay Bill

Kansas

The Article: Kansas’ Anti-Gay Segregation Bill Is an Abomination by Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.

The Text: On Tuesday, the Kansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure designed to bring anti-gay segregation—under the guise of “religious liberty”—to the already deep-red state. The bill, written out of fear that the state may soon face an Oklahoma-style gay marriage ruling, will now easily pass the Republican Senate and be signed into law by the Republican governor. The result will mark Kansas as the first state, though certainly not the last, to legalize segregation of gay and straight people in virtually every arena of life.

If that sounds overblown, consider the bill itself. When passed, the new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations—movie theaters, restaurants—can turn away gay couples at the door. And if a gay couple sues for discrimination, they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees. As I’ve noted before, anti-gay businesses might as well put out signs alerting gay people that their business isn’t welcome.

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Michael Sam And The New America

Michael Sam

The Article: Michael Sam and the new America by Frida Ghitis in CNN ONline.

The Text: When a massive, muscle-bound American football player announced this weekend that he is gay, we watched yet another brick crumble in the monolith of American prejudice. To some, Michael Sam’s words might have come as a shock, but most Americans know the country is in the midst of a fundamental social shift, one that conjures images of a different place.

Where? Well, if you traveled from the United States to the Netherlands a few years ago, what you saw — and smelled — in the streets of ultra-liberal Amsterdam probably shocked you. Young people smoking joints in an open-air café, gay couples holding hands on the streets and people of all ages not batting an eye about any of it gave U.S. visitors a novel and exotic experience.

Back then, the United States and the Netherlands stood on opposite sides of the front line of the social wars. Not anymore. It’s not because the Netherlands has changed. It is the United States, the American people, who have changed.
The transformation in U.S. public opinion, increasingly reflected in legislation, has narrowed what was an enormous gap between the two countries. Change is coming at such a fast, accelerating rate that one wonders, is America turning into the Netherlands?

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The Myth Of ‘Traditional Marriage’

Traditional Marriage

The Article: The Myth of ‘Traditional Marriage’ by Steve Chapman in Reason.

The Text: In the battle over same-sex marriage, opponents are strongly in favor of deferring to the wisdom of our ancestors. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence uses the prevailing formula when he says, “I support traditional marriage.” The Christian Coalition of America urges its friends to “Say ‘I Do’ to Traditional Marriage.”

They have friends on the Supreme Court. In arguments over a California ban on gay marriage, Justice Samuel Alito expressed reservations about abandoning time-honored arrangements. “Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years,” he said, while same-sex marriage is “newer than cell phones or the Internet.”

Invoking age-old customs has not served to convince the American people, most of whom now favor letting gays wed. But then Americans have rarely rallied to the idea that we should do something just because that’s what was done in the time of Henry VII or even George Washington.

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Why Secularism Is Good For Everyone–Especially Christians

Secularism

The Article: Secularism Is Good for America—Especially Christians by Isaac Chotiner in The New Republic.

The Text: The rise of a secular culture, combined with an increasing number of self-identified atheists and agnostics in western societies, has led to a certain amount of handwringing among religious believers. Secularists, the argument goes, are starting to become mean and nasty: as the culture war’s victors, they are acting vindictive and cruel. It’s only a matter of time before religious believers are tarred, feathered, and sent to re-education camps.

You might think I am exaggerating, but only slightly. The New Statesman recently ran a cover story about atheist intolerance; the piece claimed that religious believers were under sustained attack. And now Damon Linker, in The Week, has written an article about the secular arrogance that supposedly characterizes our current era. Of this arrogance, he writes, “When liberals act that way, they run the risk of turning themselves into latter-day Jacobins, the anti-religious zealots who dominated the French Revolution during its most radical phase.” Given the stakes, it’s worth stepping back a bit and examining this moment, at least before Linker and Billy Graham are decapitated by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne.

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The Relationship Between Pop Culture And Class

Pop Culture Class

The Article: Too poor for pop culture by D. Watkins in Salon.

The Text: Miss Sheryl, Dontay, Bucket-Head and I compiled our loose change for a fifth of vodka. I’m the only driver, so I went to get it. On the way back I laughed at the local radio stations going on and on and on, still buzzing about Obama taking a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Who cares?

No really, who? Especially since the funeral was weeks ago.

* * *

I arrived, fifth of Black Watch clenched close to me like a newborn with three red cold-cups covering the top. We play spades over at Miss Sheryl’s place in Douglass Housing Projects every few weeks. (Actually, Miss Sheryl’s name isn’t really Miss Sheryl. But I changed some names here, because I’m not into embarrassing my friends.) Her court is semi-boarded up, third world and looks like an ad for “The Wire.” Even though her complex is disgustingly unfit, it’s still overpopulated with tilting dope fiends, barefoot children, pregnant smokers, grandmas with diabetes, tattoo-faced tenants and a diverse collection of Zimmermans made up of street dudes and housing police, looking itchy to shoot anyone young and black and in Nike.

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