No ENDA In Sight, Thanks To The Roy Blunts In Congress

If you were searching for something online on Monday, you no doubt noticed this Google Doodle:

google doodle and Shakuntala Devi

November 4 was the birthday of Shakuntala Devi. She was an arithmetically-gifted child prodigy who could do seemingly impossible calculations in her head. Initially that was her claim to fame. But she was also celebrated later for writing an important book on homosexuality in 1977, The World of Homosexuals, which Wikipedia calls “the first study of homosexuality in India.” Here’s more from the site:

The book, considered “pioneering”, features interviews with two young Indian homosexual men, a male couple in Canada seeking legal marriage, a temple priest who explains his views on homosexuality, and a review of the existing literature on homosexuality. It ends with a call for decriminalising homosexuality, and “full and complete acceptance—not tolerance and not sympathy”.

Long before anyone had ever heard of Shakuntala Devi, there was Sigmund Freud, who also had an interest in homosexuality, albeit in a time when it was poorly understood. The Skeptic’s Dictionary plainly states that Sigmund Freud’s personal invention, known as psychoanalysis, is,

the granddaddy of all pseudoscientific psychotherapies, second only to Scientology as the champion purveyor of false and misleading claims about the mind, mental health, and mental illness.

An example of such nonsense, as the Dictionary points out, is how Freud viewed schizophrenia:

Freud thought he understood the nature of schizophrenia. It is not a brain disorder, but a disturbance in the unconscious caused by unresolved feelings of homosexuality. 

Fortunately, real science has advanced beyond such mumbo jumbo. Schizophrenia is no longer “a disturbance” related to feelings of homosexuality, unresolved or otherwise. But there are folks among us who still have strange views of homosexuality itself, notwithstanding Shakuntala Devi’s call for “full and complete acceptance” of it a generation ago.

And many of those folks are in Congress.

By now you have heard that a so-called gay rights bill in the United States Senate, officially known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has survived a procedural vote by a margin of 61-30. All Democrats (except for Claire McCaskill, who had attended a funeral for former Missouri congressman Ike Skelton in Lexington, Mo., and missed the vote) voted to advance the bill and a mere seven Republicans (minus a likely “yes” vote from an absent Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted with them.

The bill, as ABC News reported, “would ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The assumption behind the bill, of course, is to apply Shakuntala Devi’s “full and complete acceptance” of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity to the American workplace.

Missouri’s other senator, Roy Blunt, did not vote and I don’t know why or where he was. But I do know that in 2007 a right-wing Christian website called “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality” featured Blunt, who was not my senator but my congressman at the time, specifically because of his opposition to ENDA:

Rep. Roy Blunt: Democratic Majority’s ENDA Bill Takes Dead Aim at Religious Freedom

blunt and ENDAIn a piece published by the reactionary website Human Events and appearing almost six years ago to the day, Blunt explained the basis of his objection to ENDA. You can go there and read it for yourself, but I will here summarize his objections:

1. Ensuring that there is no employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity represents a threat to the practice of Bible- and Quran-believing religion.

2. Employees in Christian or Muslim businesses would be forced to “choose” between their faith and their pocketbooks out of fear of litigation.

3. The whole ENDA exercise is a “whim”—defined by the Free Dictionary as an “arbitrary thought or impulse”—of Congress.

4. Your “freedom to practice religion” could be “greatly impinged” by some judge “sitting on a bench” in a particular state on a given day.

To condense Blunt’s objections into one sentence: Homosexuals have no rights which a conservative Christian (or Muslim) is bound to respect. 

All of this, of course, at least for Blunt and his Bible-believing constituency, stems from the Bible’s rather hostile view of homosexuals. You know, like this from Leviticus:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

So, you can see that what Roy Blunt was protecting in 2007 (and presumably today) in terms of his opposition to ENDA, is the Iron Age beliefs of people who thought (and some who still think) that there is something so seriously wrong with homosexuals that executing them, if they practice their “sin,” is necessary.

Where is Sigmund Freud when you need him? His views are quite civilized, at least compared to the view Blunt is defending.

And by the way, Rand Paul, the duel-loving serial plagiarizer and faux-libertarian superstar, a man who in theory is in favor of “more individual freedom,” voted in favor of honoring Iron Age notions of sexuality and the bigotry that goes with them, allowing the Bible- and Quran-thumpers to keep discriminating against homosexuals, or perceived homosexuals, in the workplace. He too, like Roy Blunt, apparently believes that such folks have no rights which religious zealots are bound to respect, especially religious zealots who happen to own businesses.

Below is a video of Roy Blunt arguing against ENDA in 2007 in the House. While it is unlikely that ENDA will ever become law, so long as one side of the Capitol remains under theocratic control, you will, no doubt, hear arguments similar to Blunt’s should this matter ever get debated in the teavangelical-dominated House of Boehner:

3 Comments

  1. Somehow, somehow, despite the passions and excesses of those turbulent times, the founders were able to partition religion from the pragmatic process of governing. It was never a completed work, and now it appears that religious dogmatism is gaining a fresh purchase. The dichotomy is in unstable equilibrium and can, with the butterfly effect, go either way into the future.

    Excellent job, Duane, in framing the issue.

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  2. Duane,

    First, thanks for sharing. I don’t know how you can tolerate watching or listening to the Christian hypocrisy from the American Taliban. But, as one of your readers, I do appreciate and thank you for the information that you provide because the news media damn sure fails to.

    I think your reference to Leviticus, especially at 20:13, “If a man also lie with mankind . . . ,“ is a good place to start to put these fraudulent fundamentalists in their place. They think the bible is inerrant and that they are bound, like they would have the rest of us, follow the rules. They should then consider some other prohibitions in Leviticus:

    19:15 Perverting justice, showing partiality to either the poor or the rich (campaign finance reform? Food Stamps?)
    19:16 Spreading slander (about Obama?)
    19:18 Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (Voting 44 times to repeal the ACA? Shuting down the government?)
    19:33 Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (illegal immigrants?)
    23:3 Working on the Sabbath (Does that include the Sunday morning talk shows?)

    And on and on it goes. But, what the Christian zealots should really be concerned about starts in Leviticus 26:15:

    “If you reject My laws and spurn My rules … I will wreak misery upon you … you shall sow your seed to no purpose, for your enemies shall eat it. … I will break your proud glory. I will make your skies like iron and your earth like copper. … I will go on smiting you sevenfold for your sins. I will loose wild beasts against you, and they shall bereave you of your children … though you eat, you shall not be satisfied … your land shall become a desolation and your cities a ruin …”

    Wonder how the Roy Blunts of the world would fair under these laws? Clearly, if they are not compliant, it would be the ENDA the road for them. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    Herb

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    • Herb,

      The Book of Leviticus is the best argument against Bible-worship that there is. You are so right to point to Leviticus 26:15. I ask evangelicals all the time (when they will talk to me; they kind of know what’s coming these days!) how they can revere a God like the one described in that, and other, passages. A God that would destroy the land and cities, “loose wild beasts” against them, all because they didn’t quite conform to the letter of the law.

      And how would the Roy Blunts fare under such laws? Well, they’ve got two ways out: One, they don’t much talk about them; two, when they do talk about them, they always present Jesus as the savior who has “redeemed them from the curse of the law.” Kinda neat ain’t it? I always try to get them to ask themselves just what kind of God would make strange laws that no one could completely keep, then attach a penalty for breaking them that is as severe as any sadistic soul could conceive, then essentially say, “Ah, the heck with it, I’ll just send my son to die in your place.”

      Strange stuff, when you think about it.

      Duane

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