US Commission on Civil Rights statement misrepresents commonsense state laws

Monday, April 18, 2016

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco regarding a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights statement issued Monday (along with a dissent by two commissioners) that grossly misrepresents state laws or bills protecting religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and student privacy in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee, as well as a birth certificate executive action in Kansas:

“Rather than bringing reason and clarity, the statement from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights simply adds more fuel to the politically motivated hysteria surrounding the reasonable, commonsense laws, bills, and executive actions in North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kansas. For example, laws ensuring that biological males cannot share locker rooms and showers with young girls and that protect the exercise of basic religious liberties do not ‘target’ anyone for ‘discrimination,’ just as the dissenting statement from Commissioners Kirsanov and Heriot explains. They should be commended for rightly affirming that the laws in question ‘address real issues in reasonable ways’ and are not ‘an attack on the LGBT community.’”

Excerpts from dissenting statement from two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:
  • Unfortunately, it is not entirely clear that the [majority] statement’s signatories have actually read the relevant legislation. We have. Moreover, we have tried as best we can to reflect on the complexities of the policies they embody. We neither endorse nor oppose any of them and note that some could have benefitted from further wordsmithing in order to achieve their intended goals. But none of them deserves to be referred to in the derisive terms used by the Commission majority. Those that deal with religious liberty issues are not merely using religion as a “guise” or “excuse” as the Commission majority alleges. All of them address real issues in reasonable ways; none is simply an attack on the LGBT community.
  • The purpose is to avoid coercing unwilling individuals into participating in something they do not believe in. As Nelson Mandela once said, “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” There are many in this nation with sincere religious and moral objections to same-sex marriage. Denying that, as our colleagues do, is simply a way to pretend the issues that face us as a nation are easy. Toleration is all about leaving people alone to live their lives as they see fit; it is not about forcing people to take part in other people’s lives.
  • We note that Cirque du Soleil has canceled its North Carolina performances on account of H.B. 2 but has and will continue to perform in parts of the world where homosexuality is illegal and punished harshly. The only possible explanation for this is that its employees misunderstand H.B. 2.
  • [Birth certificates] are birth certificates, not life-style certificates. Kansas has the right to keep records that accurately reflect the facts of a birth. It’s about truth. And truth cannot be pro- or anti-LGBT. It’s just truth. As much as some individuals born as males may identify psychologically with females, as much as they may exercise their right to adopt female habits and dress, as much as they may undergo surgery and other physiological treatments in order to cause their physical bodies to better resemble females…indeed as much as we might even support them in those endeavors, they are not in fact members of the female sex (or vice versa). When every cell in an individual’s body contains chromosomes identifying that individual’s sex, Kansas is not required to pretend otherwise in its official records, especially not retroactively to birth. For our colleagues to suggest that Kansas is acting unconstitutionally is Orwellian.
  • Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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