By Doug Porter
The 4th District Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling allowing yoga to be taught as a form of physical fitness instruction in Encinitas schools. The lawsuit in question was brought by parents of two students who claimed the practice promoted Hinduism and inhibited Christianity.
The court of public opinion forced the Indiana state legislature to amend its special version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act saying it cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
You don’t have to look very hard at the backers of the lawsuit and the original version of that legislation to discover that they were pursuing the same agenda. These instances are about furthering the cause of social conservatives to impose their standards of society. This is what they would call fighting the “war on religion.”
From the Times of San Diego:
The justices found that the lower court ruling was appropriate because, while yoga might be religious in some contexts, classes in the district did not have any “religious, mystical or spiritual trappings.”
Dean Robert Broyles, president of the National Center for Law & Policy in Escondido, said he and his clients haven’t decided whether to continue up the appellate ladder.
“No other court in the past 50 years has allowed public school officials to lead children in formal religious rituals like the Hindu liturgy of praying to, bowing to, and worshipping the sun god,” Broyles said. “We are disappointed with the decision and are carefully considering our options.”
Does anybody remember Mr. Broyles? You should.
His “National Center…” used to be called the Western Center for Law and Policy. The name was changed in the years following 2008 in response to a similarly named group’s lawsuit.
The Western Center on Law and Poverty felt the need to go to court to distance itself from Broyles’ outfit following his high profile role in support of Proposition 8, the now-overturned initiative banning same sex marriage in California.
Here’s a snippet from his Los Angeles Times op-ed on the subject:
Today in California and across our nation, the homosexual legal agenda and 1st Amendment rights are on a violent collision course.
I would argue that changing out the word “homosexual” and replacing it with “protestant theocratic” is the real truth of the matter here.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (like Indiana’s’) being peddled around the country are correctly being interpreted as a reaction to the upcoming supreme court decision recognizing same sex marriage as the law of the land.
It’s different packaging, but the intent is the same: to push back against the sea change in public opinion and increasing acceptance of all humans in society. Yoga used to be considered exotic and outside the “norm.” Homosexuality was so far outside the “norm” it was considered illegal.
Without the legal and societal bulwarks reactions are trying to put (or keep) in place, societal conservatives feel that the “battle” will be lost. They say they are defending religion. I say they defending bigotry.
Over the weekend, UT-San Diego ran an article discussing changes in public attitude:
In 1988, the General Social Survey, a widely respected poll funded by the National Science Foundation, determined that 11 percent of Americans supported gay marriage. The most recent poll, released last month: 56 percent.
That’s a 45-point jump, a tidal wave of acceptance that’s inundating American culture, ready or not. Just look at the uproar that caught legislators in Indiana and Arkansas by surprise and forced changes in “religious freedom” laws viewed by gay-rights supporters as discriminatory.
Today’s Guardian has a good analysis of the right’s rear guard actions taking place around the country:
The swift and overwhelming backlash that helped modify the religious freedom bills – spurred in particular by tech and business leaders – revealed a new front in the broader US culture wars over LGBT rights. Even as marriage equality emerges a winner in the national battle, other hard-won LGBT rights are being attacked under the guise of religious liberty…
…The new wave of RFRAs are seen by critics as a thinly veiled attempt by the religious right to claw back hard-won civil rights for the LGBT community. LGBT advocates charge that the laws poke a loophole into state and local nondiscrimination protections, providing a legal basis for businesses to refuse service to gay, lesbian and transgender customers.
“The motivation behind passing these laws” has fundamentally changed since RFRAs emerged in the early 1990s, Adam Talbot, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, told the Guardian. They have become “a last stand against equality”.
You Might Want to Pronounce it “Heb” Bush…
April Fools’ Day is all but forgotten, so now it’s time for various candidates to declare themselves as seriously interested in getting the nomination of their political party for the 2016 presidential contest.
Do you care? I didn’t think so.
None-the-less, I feel obligated to share this bit of investigative reporting, via NPR:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2016, self-identified as Hispanic in a 2009 voter-registration application, The New York Times reports, citing the application it obtained from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department.
A spokeswoman for Bush could not explain the characterization to the newspaper.
Bush, the brother of a former president and the son of another, hails from one of the country’s most-prominent political and business families. Indeed, Burke’s Peerage, a directory of royalty, lists the Bush family’s connectionsto European royal families.
The Times notes, Bush “speaks fluent Spanish. His wife, Columba Bush, was born in Mexico. For two years in his 20s, he lived in Venezuela, immersing himself in the country’s culture.” Bush, a former Florida governor, has long advocated appealing to Spanish-speaking voters. Univision, the Spanish-language network, even labeled him a “Hispanic candidate.”
ALEC Watch: Threats Made to Activist Groups
As a public service I’ll be running regular reports on the activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) a right wing legislative factory who are planning holding their national convention in San Diego in July.
In recent months ALEC has been facing an exodus of corporate sponsors. Google, British Petroleum, Facebook, Yahoo and Northrop Grumman are among those severing ties in response to negative publicity about the groups’ support of climate change deniers.
Now, according to the Washington Post, ALEC is responding to that bad publicity by threatening action against Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters. Their lawyers are asking them to immediately “cease making false statements” and “remove all false or misleading material” suggesting that ALEC does not believe in global warming.
Here’s a nifty website tracking ALEC’s contributions to the “debate.”
Given the track record of the right wing bill-mill in providing a platform for denialists and working with legislators in crafting laws aimed at blocking remedial environmental efforts, it’s no surprise these activists aren’t willing to play along.
“We don’t appreciate the attempt to silence LCV just because we disagree with ALEC’s positions,” said David Willett, LCV’s senior vice president for communications. “Usually if someone wants to get serious about tackling climate change, they ask about working with us, they don’t threaten to sue us.”
The Class War Over Water
The Los Angeles Times took a look today at the lack of interest in responding to Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for reducing water usage in wealthier neighborhoods.
…a recent UCLA study examining a decade of Department of Water and Power data showed that on average, wealthier neighborhoods consume three times more water than less-affluent ones.
With Gov. Jerry Brown’s order requiring a 25% cut in water consumption, upscale communities are scrambling to develop stricter laws that will work where years of voluntary standards have not. Many believe it’s going to take a change in culture as well as city rules to hit the goal…
….Stephanie Pincetl, who worked on the UCLA water-use study, said wealthy Californians are “lacking a sense that we are all in this together.”
“The problem lies, in part, in the social isolation of the rich, the moral isolation of the rich,” Pincetl said.
Go Figure: Bike Ridership Rises When Bike Lanes Are Installed
Build it and they will come. New infrastructure drives new behaviors.
In late 2012 SANDAG, the region’s planning agency, installed bike counters around the entire county. The question to answer was: how many people were actually riding in the region?
According to the count data obtained from SDSU’s Active Transportation Research, the bike traffic in Uptown has gone up – by an average of 346% since 2012.
And it looks like the biggest jump in bike ridership happened after the buffered bike lanes were striped on Fourth and Fifth Avenues in 2014.
On This Day: 1712 – The first slave revolt in the U.S. occurred at a slave market in New York City’s Wall Street area. Twenty-one blacks were executed for killing nine whites. The city responded by strengthening its slave codes.1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the use of ground troops in combat operations in Vietnam. 1983 – U.S. Interior Secretary James Watt banned the Beach Boys from the 4th of July celebration on the Washington Mall. He said rock ‘n’ roll bands attract the “wrong element.” (Ahhh, the Reagan years…)
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