Monday, May 08, 2017

A Tale Of Two Countries

Two countries, ninety miles apart look at us through two different lenses, one distorted and the other clear.
Cuba holds first ever transgender Mass
LGBTQ Nation
By Erin Rook
Sunday, May 7, 2017

Three transgender clergy presided over a special mass Friday in Cuba, a first for that country.

Reuters reports that pastors from Brazil, Canada and the United States wore stoles in the trans pride colors — light blue, pink and white — and delivered their sermons against a backdrop of rainbow flags.

It was a sign of the times in a country where people of faith and gender and sexual minorities alike were historical persecuted.

“Tonight has been a night of celebration of equality between all people, marking a new era for Cuba,” said Brazilian pastor Alexya Salvador. “God’s love is radically inclusive.”

The Mass was part of a conference on transsexuality and theology, organized by the Cuban branch of the LGBTQ-affirming Metropolitan Community Church.

“This is not only a first of its kind event for Cuba, but certainly one of the very first ever to be held anywhere in the world,” said Allyson Robinson, a Baptist who previously served as the executive director of OutServe. She and Salvador were joined by Canadian Pastor Cindy Bourgeois from Canada.
Then up in Tennessee…
Activists protest Tennessee's new 'natural and ordinary meaning' law
Times Free Press
By Tyler Jett
May 7th, 2017

Protesting a state law they believe attacks LGBTQ rights, a group of about 20 people gathered in the rain at Ross's Landing on Saturday.

The day before, Gov. Bill Haslam signed HB 1111, a bill that applies "natural and ordinary meaning" to any undefined words in every state law. The bill itself does not explain what constitutes an "undefined word." But the Tennessee Equality Project, an advocacy group, called it a "sneaky LGBT Erasure Bill."

"I find the idea of 'natural and unstrained definition of words' profoundly obnoxious," Meredith Stroud, a local activist, told the small Chattanooga crowd at the gathering Saturday. "None of us are speaking Old English right now. Beowulf wouldn't understand us. Second of all, it presupposes the idea that LGBT people are a recent phenomenon. And we are not."

In its entirety, HB 1111 reads: "Undefined words shall be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of their language, except when a contrary intention is clearly manifest."
So what does all this gobbledygook mean?

The Jurist explains,
[JURIST] Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam [official website] on Friday signed [press release] SB 1085 [text, PDF] into law which mandates that undefined laws be given their natural and ordinary meaning. Dubbed the "natural and ordinary meaning" law, it requires that "undefined words be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language, except when a contrary intention is clearly manifest." Some rights groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign [advocacy website] have raised concerns [HRC report] that this new law could create conflicts with LGBT protections and gay marriage provisions. In response to these concerns, Haslam stated:
Using a word's ordinary meaning is a well-established principle of statutory construction. While I understand the concerns raised about this bill, the Obergefell decision is the law of the land, and this legislation does not change a principle relied upon by the courts for more than a century, mitigating the substantive impact of this legislation. Because of that I have signed HB 1111/SB 1085 into law.
In other words, from what I understand, it means marriage means what it meant back in 1776 and gender means what it meant back in the 1950s.

1 comment:

Natalie Vyne said...

I love laws like this. About the only thing predictable is that the law of unintended consequences awaits.

Every lawyer in Tennessee is now reviewing his, her, or their files to see if they can get a different result by applying this law to their situation. I would not be surprised if the next thing we see is a multi-gazzilion dollar commercial case hanging in the balance and the result will come down to the natural and ordinary meaning of an undefined word in the applicable statute. The Tennessee legislature, with one stroke, has changed the agreed upon meaning in hundreds of its statutes.

No matter the legislative intent, Tennessee cannot pass a law that conflicts with the U.S. Constitution, either on its face or as applied. This will mean more litigation over things we wish were settled but I am less concerned with this sort of law than the so-called religious freedom laws. They are the devil's work.

Time will tell.