Gary Imhoff gets nuttier and nuttier
Do not believe the reassurance of Councilmember Thomas, at Tuesday’s legislative session, that religion is not under attack. Councilmember Wells’ letter to Senator Durbin is just the opening salvo of the attack. For the present, the council will tolerate churches’ preaching their traditional beliefs, as long as they do not live by them; in the future, teaching about traditional morality may be held to be a hate crime under the Human Rights Act. Councilmembers are not about to write a meaningful and effective exemption for religions into the same-sex marriage bill, and they will never admit the legitimacy of individual consciences. They disdain people whose consciences lead them to believe in traditional morality.
The examples Imhoff cites include snarky comments by readers on websites, and a letter written by Councilmember Tommy Wells and Board of Education President Lisa Raymond. As to the snarky reader comments, they populate most comment boards, and such comments are by no means limited to anti-Catholic comments. As to the letter, Wells and Raymond are responding to the stated intent by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to discriminate. So the Church, according to Imhoff, has a right to discriminate not only in religious matters but in the provision of publicly funded services, yet our elected representatives have no right to defend us against it. This places the civil sphere within the religious sphere, at the whim of any religious entity, or even of any individual, since Imhoff also objects to the bill's lack of an individual conscience clause which would effectively gut the D.C. Human Rights Act. Well screw you too, Mr. Imhoff. The sad thing is that he's actually willing to notice, nay even to decry, the hostility of others, yet blind to his own intolerance. Shame on him for such dishonesty.
As to Imhoff's notion that "in the future, teaching about traditional morality may be held to be a hate crime under the Human Rights Act" this amounts to willful ignorance of, and distortion of, the legislation. Religious organizations' religious teachings are protected activities under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. No D.C. law can abridge that freedom; the currently pending bill explicitly states its intention to steer clear of infringing on such clearly religious activity. But the First Amendment trumps any bill, statement or no. Perhaps Mr. Imhoff is upset at the prospect that public schools will not be allowed to teach what he calls "traditional morality," presumably meaning disapproval of homosexuality. If so, he is upset that the government cannot establish religion.
We wish to assure Gary Imhoff and other professional hysterics that we are unwilling to obtain our rights at the expense of other people's rights. If he only had a reciprocal attitude, we would be fine. Unfortunately, his conception of his own rights includes the right to vote away ours. No you don't. There is no right for people to vote on other people's rights. But to the extent that he is afraid that government officers will burst into houses of worship and arrest ministers, rabbis, and imams in mid-homily for what they are preaching, we wish to assure him that we will happily file an amicus brief defending the right of clergy to denounce gay people from their pulpits, deny us their sacraments, and bar us from their houses of worship. Again, if Mr. Imhoff showed the same level of respect for us that we do toward those who seek to deny us equal protection of the law, there would be no problem between us. The victimhood he and other homophobes envision is entirely fabricated.
To quote playwright Tony Kushner, specifically his character Prior Walter: "The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come."