Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Faith Should Be No Defense For Intolerance

Given all the contentious social issues that divide liberals and conservatives, homosexual rights continues to be the one I understand the least. Further, I am completely baffled at how those in opposition to homosexuality on ideological grounds can continue to act as though denying rights to gays is a positive moral position. Even for conservative Christians, who try and claim dogmatic reasons (which are very suspect) for their stance against homosexuality, the staunchness of said opposition makes little sense. There are literally thousands of more concrete issues that the Bible forbids, and yet the incorrectly interpreted prohibition against homosexuality strikes one of the loudest chords today.

However, it's the ongoing reluctance of eduated professionals, doctors, in this case, to recognize equal rights for homosexuals that really leaves me puzzled.

From Red Nova:

A California appeals court heard arguments Tuesday in the case of a woman who sued her doctors after they refused to artificially inseminate her, allegedly because she is gay.

The physicians are appealing a ruling that prevented them from raising religious freedom as a defense in the test of whether doctors can deny treatment to gays and lesbians.


Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton should be allowed to explain "what went through their hearts and minds when they did what they did," [Defense Attorney Carlo] Coppo told the three-judge panel.

The question of religious beliefs is irrelevant! It is ALWAYS wrong to discriminate against people based on their sexuality, whether such discrimination is technically legal or not. This same religious-based defense has been used in the past to deny civil rights to certain groups and is no less evil when used for such today.

The doctors contend they denied treatment because Benitez and her registered domestic partner of 15 years were not married.

This defense is so intellectually dishonest that Brody and Fenton should hang their heads in shame for even attempting it. Of course, Benitez and her domestic partner were not married: the state of California denied them that right in 1999, as it continues to deny them that right today. This is nothing more than the doctors' lawyers attempting to add a facade of moral righteousness to what is clearly a case of two bigots discriminating against a lifestyle with which they do not approve.

California Superior Court Justice Gilbert Nares lays out what is so important about this case going forward:

"As we all know, this is going to the U.S. Supreme Court. It's just a question of when."

A Supreme Court that will be trending very socially conservative by then. A ruling against a compelling interest in preventing discrimination based on sexuality by the Roberts Court could open the door to a potential re-examination of anti-discrimination rulings over the past 30 years. Given what I believe is Roberts' clear inclination as a judge to side with corporate interests, I am not instilled with much optimism for when the Benitez case reaches that docket. Anti-discrimination laws are a burden on employers; a burden which many business owners would be more than happy to shed.

My final thought on this is just amazement at the level of self-righteous arrogance Drs. Fenton and Brody demonstrate by their dismissal of Ms. Benitez's request for treatment based on their beliefs, as though they have some intrinsic right to impose their beliefs on another person's life. Let's not forget: these doctors did not just deny Benitez the right to have safe medical treatment. They denied her the right to conceive a child by the method of her choosing. They denied her the dignity of exercising the same right that any other woman in the country already enjoys, just because Fenton and Brody judged her lifestyle to be unacceptable by their standards. They forced another person, another American, to bear the burden of their intolerance and then asked the court to let them justify it with their religious beliefs.

What understanding of "freedom" can justify such treatment?

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