Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ballot Initiatives

Those who follow my blog know that I don’t like ballot initiatives; I feel human rights should never be put to a popular vote. Women would never have gotten the vote. The Civil rights Act of 1964 would never have passed. Marriage equality would never have passed. And now this…
Question To Repeal Transgender Accommodations Law Qualifies For 2018 Ballot
WBUR
By Colin A. Young
October 11, 2016

Massachusetts voters in 2018 will be asked whether the state should keep or repeal the new state law aimed at preventing discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations, as activists submitted enough signatures to secure a place on the ballot, the secretary of state's office said Tuesday.

The ballot question committee Keep MA Safe filed 34,231 certified signatures with Secretary of State William Galvin's office, more than the 32,375 needed to ensure ballot access in 2018, according to Galvin's office.

The committee has said hundreds of volunteers, resisting "radical transgender policies," had collected more than 50,000 total signatures over the past two months in order to get the question on the ballot.
[…]
The repeal question could be joined on the 2018 ballot by a constitutional amendment imposing a 4 percent surtax on household incomes above $1 million. The offices held by Gov. Charlie Baker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are also on the ballot in 2018.
The one good thing is that it will be on the 2018 ballot, we have two years to prove that the Christian right is lying, there will be no rash of rapists using the law to rape women. We have two year to show everyone that there were no problems with trans people having public accommodations.

But that is not the only place where we are being attacked in Massachusetts.
4 Churches Sue Over 'Punishing' Transgender Bathroom Law
ABC News
By Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer - Boston
October 11, 2016

A new state law that prohibits discrimination against transgender people in public restrooms is "punishing" the protected religious speech of churches and pastors, a conservative Christian organization claims in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, said it sued on behalf of four Massachusetts churches to protect their right to operate their facilities "in a manner that doesn't violate their core religious beliefs." The lawsuit names Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey and members of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination as defendants.

The law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in July and went into effect in October, bars discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations. Among other things, it allows people to use the bathrooms or locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities.

Healey has found that churches are places of public accommodation.
Hmm… Massachusetts law says,
Public Accommodation
The Attorney General's Office enforces state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation. The Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law ( M.G.L c. 272, s. 92A, 98 and 98A ) prohibits making any distinction, discrimination, or restriction in admission to or treatment in a place of public accommodation based on religion, creed, class, race, color, denomination, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, or because of deafness or blindness, or any physical or mental disability.

Laws
M.G.L. c. 272, s. 92A, defines a place of public accommodation as "any place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public." Places of public accommodation include:
  • Hotels, inns, motels, campgrounds, resorts;
  • Restaurants, bars, and other establishments serving food or drink;
  • Theaters, concert halls, sports stadiums, and other places of entertainment;
  • Auditoriums, convention centers, lecture halls, houses of worship, and other places of public gathering;
  • Sales and rental establishments, including stores, shopping centers, automobile rental agencies, and other retail establishments;
  • Service establishments, including laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, barber shops, travel agents, gas stations, funeral parlors, employment agencies, and providers of professional services such as lawyers, doctors, dentists, accountants, and insurance agents;
  • Health care facilities, including dental and medical offices, pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and other health facilities;
  • Transportation vehicles of all types and transportation stations, terminals, depots, platforms and facilities appurtenant thereto;
  • Museums, libraries, galleries, and other places of public display or collection;
  • Parks, zoos, amusement parks, and other places of recreation;
  • Child care centers, senior citizens centers, homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies, and other social service establishments;
  • Gymnasiums, health spas, bowling alleys, swimming pools, beaches, golf courses, and other places of exercises or recreation.
I see "houses of worship, and other places of public gathering" on that list. And I also see the definition as “a place of public accommodation as ‘any place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.’"

I believe what the Attorney General has said was that if a religious organization or "houses of worship" has a public function such as a bingo game that they cannot discriminate against whoever come to play bingo, which is a lot different than what the law suit claims. If the religious organization doesn’t want LGBT people to attend then they should only advertise in the church bulletin and keep it closed to church members.


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