“Moral” Lawbreaking

Remember the lyrics of that old cowboy song, “Don’t Fence Me In”?

Oh give me land lots of land under starry skies above
don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide
open spaces that I love
don’t fence me in.

I found those “wide open spaces”–they’re between Wyoming legislators’ ears.

A bill has been introduced into the Wyoming state legislature aimed at legalizing discrimination against the gay community–but only if the discriminatory behavior is motivated by religion. House Bill 135, also called the Government Nondiscrimination Act, would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community, so long as the discrimination is done for religious or “moral” reasons.

According to Second Nexus (a publication with which I am unfamiliar),

Specifically, the bill would forbid the government from taking action against any “person,” including public and private corporations and entities, if that person acts on a “religious belief or moral conviction” that marriage is the union of one man and woman, or that “‘man’ and ‘woman’ mean an individual’s biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy genetics at the time of birth.”

The bill is remarkable for the breadth of organizations it allows to discriminate on the basis of religious freedom. “If passed, HB 135 would allow government employees, licensed professionals (like teachers or counselors) and private businesses to discriminate,” said Sabrina King, Policy Director at the ACLU of Wyoming. Under the bill, even hospitals and doctors would be allowed to deny routine health care services. (The bill does not exempt the provision of “emergency medical treatment necessary for treatment of an illness or injury.”)

The bill does not define “moral conviction” or “religious belief,” nor does it specify what would constitute evidence of the genuine existence of such a belief.

Think of all the other possible applications of this approach: all those libertarians who have a “moral conviction” that taxes are theft could assert that conviction as a defense to nonpayment. Mormon men who still believe in plural marriage could cite their religious beliefs when marrying several underage girls. I understand that the Santeria religion requires ritual, public animal sacrifices…Evidently, however, the only religious and moral beliefs that deserve legal protection in Wyoming are those that require marginalizing and diminishing LGBTQ people.

Even Justice Scalia, a notoriously anti-gay, pro-religion jurist, understood that allowing religious exemptions from laws of general application would constitute a direct assault on the rule of law.

I actually have a strong moral objection to seeing my tax dollars used to pay lawmakers who introduce measures that are patently unconstitutional–not to mention hateful and counterproductive–whether those public officials are in Wyoming, Indiana or the White House.


  1. Surely this bill will be found to violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Don’t legislators take an oath to defend the Constitution any longer?

  2. When a religious movement steeped in magical thinking and self righteousness convinces its followers to abandon the wisdom of western thought and the lessons history has taught us, and when that religious movement organizes with the goal to rule politically and economically, and when the members of that group do gain power in the government they then set out to solidify their dominance and control at the expense of freedom. This is what has happened and continues to happen in the United States at the hands of Evangelical Christians.

    Their manners are impeccable, but their souls are in disarray.

  3. They don’t even need this law to protect religious freedom because it’s already 100% legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in Wyoming (and Indiana except for a few municipalities), and you don’t even need a religious reason to do it. We need to be clear that discrimination is ALREADY legal in 29 states! This is just unnecessary red meat thrown to the religious right, and serves to just stir up. Igotry more.

  4. “The bill does not define “moral conviction” or “religious belief,” nor does it specify what would constitute evidence of the genuine existence of such a belief.”

    Pence’s RFRA law (both versions) gives no specification as to “which religion or whose moral convictions” he based the law on other than HIS OWN. Which of the countless Christian religions are his morals based on and which religions were represented by those unidentified persons in Pence’s “locked door” signing of the RFRA? I am basically of the Christian variety belief but Pence’s bill does not represent my acceptance of the beliefs of others which differ from my own; including the Atheist reliance on science and evolution and the Jewish belief that Jesus was and is not the Messiah.

    It appears Wyoming is jumping to the forefront before Pence has had time to push his national version of Indiana’s RFRA to Congress for passage into law. The many overwhelmingly racist and bigoted actions of Trump and the current administration; with full support of the GOP and White Nationalist appointees, are not based on morals as I understand the term. There is no basis of “right or wrong principles” other than the far right-wing administration forcing their “wrong” racism, bigotry and xenophobia on this country via Trump’s Sharpie signed documents relieving us of our “rights” by overturning enacted laws protected by the Constitution.

    Wyoming is but a stepping-stone as we await Pence’s national version of Indiana’s RFRA law protecting Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A, et al.

  5. This paves the way for the Cannabis Church and any other “religion” to make it up as they go. I like Sheila’s example of Libertarian objection to taxes; I am starting to feel Libertarianism well up in my soul…

  6. “Think of all the other possible applications of this approach: all those libertarians who have a “moral conviction” that taxes are theft could assert that conviction as a defense to nonpayment. ”

    Consider my comments yesterday regarding my daughter-in-law’s refusal by the Center Township Trustee’s Office for any form of public assistance due to living in a home she cannot afford (due to loss of her years-long job and only part time employment opportunities for 4 years) and the millions of other Americans in her position. What else can we consider our tax dollars supporting Trump’s THREE White House locations and multiple golfing vacations over barely one month, anything but theft?

    His hiring freeze on government employees, other than those border guards and Homeland Security agents to aid ICE in rounding up his hated immigrants, will run into multi-millions. Locally, we have the millions in tax payoffs to Carrier Corp. as promised by Trump regarding his fictional 1,000 saved jobs here. And the true work of all levels of federal government hasn’t yet begun under his “administration”. Pence has been too busy playing gofer for Trump to settle into attention to putting his national level version of RFRA full action against LGBTQs or the national level of his Indiana anti-abortion law. We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

  7. A state that saw the slaughter of Matthew Shepard in its own back yard in 1998 just said, “More please!” Disgusting and certainly not what Jesus would do.

  8. Who needs the cosmos when all these empty headed wingnut brains are begging to be explored.

    I mind the time when a feller named Oliver North and his secretary Fawn Hall both decided trashing the constitution was okay because there was a higher law they followed.

  9. So Muslims can throw Log Cabin wingnuts off buildings with impunity?
    Muslims can enforce female genital mutilation with impunity?

  10. According to the GOP, the government is too big and too much in your business unless, you have religion and gays in the area…then NOPE, stop what you’re doing, the FEDs need to monitor everything because…god.

  11. The Wyoming proposal is unconstitutional on its face but may serve its purpose in diverting voters’ attention from the real issues confronting the state such as declining prices and demand for energy, one of the mainstays of the economy in this thinly-populated state. It seems that politicians with their lust for power over the lives of citizens see no limits in what they can connive in order to play out their roles as junior emperors. Fortunately, we have a Constitution that (properly construed) guards our freedoms from such unconstitutional intrusions, intrusions by those who (at least in theory) represent us!

    I would recommend to the people living in Wyoming that they demand some town hall meetings with their state representatives and senators to discuss this proposal and any other such legislative outrages that may be on the griddle in Cheyenne. This, after all, is the state that gave us Dick Cheney, that renowned servant of the people who went to Iraq to spread democracy and did such a good job of it. I have this bridge. . . . .

  12. First of all, wonderful post Theresa, compact and full of meaning.

    It’s strange I think that the design of all government is really the art of balancing freedom with power and most people view that only from their personal perspective so favor maximum freedom from others for themselves and maximum power over others for themselves. This is typically disguised by abstract very generalized cries for “liberty” vs “public safety”.

    No matter how one subscribes to organized religion it’s about power. The power of God and His Rules and the importance of everyone following them.

    Puritans of all stripe love rules (power) over sex and gender. I would love to know why that’s true but that knowledge will have to wait for another life to figure out.

    Wyoming apparently is about freedom from everything not Wyoming with the exception of Christian power including all of its specifications for sexual conduct. The range may be free but the bedroom must be controlled or……..?

    Or what?

  13. Strike another blow for Fake President Donald Trump. Not too long ago, our government had a good relationship with the Mexican government. Thanks to Trump, it’s now a fake relationship. Until very recently, our government treated aliens with compassion. Now it’s fake compassion. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the state government of Wyoming has introduced new laws that totally annoy gays, lesbians and transexuals under the guise of fake religion. Whether local, state or national activities are involved, Trump seems to take great pride in changing everything to the betterment of God knows whom.

  14. A bit off the topic of discrimination against the LBGTQ community in Wyoming, but fits right into wing-nut Republican/Tea Party legislative over-reach and misuse of their offices.

    In today’s morning paper, I read that yesterday the Arizona Senate passed a bill that would allow police in Arizona to arrest people for the crime of “racketeering” for simply attending a peaceful protest, if the police believe that a riot or disorder might occur, regardless of whether any rioting or damage has actually occurred. The wing-nuts claim that professional “provocateurs” are being paid to go around the country to create public disorder. “Better to stop a riot before it occurs” they claim. [Surprise, they have no proof this has ever happened).

    Guess who gets to decide that a peaceful demonstration might go bad? Think there might be room for discrimination to stop otherwise peaceful assembly? Nah. The police and other authorities wouldn’t lock people up who are protesting against what they are doing, would they?

    I have no idea how such a law could be constitutional under either the U.S. or Arizona Constitutions. But it is the “canary in the coalmine” that we have clearly started down the road to fascism at all levels of government in this Country.

  15. There’s lots of Indiviaibles in Texas. I haven’t been to a meeting yet. Our recent meeting of Democrats had a card writing and will hand deliver them to Lamar Smith’s office Friday. We’re in Austin.

  16. “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
    ― Anne Lamott

    In other Right Wing News and this is being posted on Face Book –>>>
    If Heaven Has a Gate, a Wall and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America? This an agenda item for Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

    Side BAR, This does seem to appeal to the Simpletons who believe Their God hates everyone they do. So you have to wonder, Have any of these people actually been to Heaven and back??

    Among other Topics will be the following:
    > Fake climate news camouflaging an anti-capitalist agenda – and what president Trump plans to do about it.
    >How to bring prominent conservative speakers to your campus.
    > FREE stuff vs FREE-dom: millenials’ love affair with Bernie Sanders?
    > Recovering from the Obama flu: What is the prescription for health care?
    > The popular vote – does it matter & what you can do about it.
    > False News and the Lame Steam Media

  17. They are very active. They are going to McSally’s town hall today and I’m impressed with their activity. I couldn’t believe how quickly they were able to get over 1000 people in the group in just a fortnight. They have over 2200 members already in a month!

  18. A person is exempt from prosecution “…if that person acts on a religious belief or moral conviction”. What conduct, exactly, is permissible under this definition? Murder? Assault? Rape?

    Please, please tell me that I’m going to wake up from this nightmare soon.

  19. Beautiful, Theresa! “Their manners are impeccable, but their souls are in disarray.”

    I look for brief and powerful. This one statement has both.

    Natacha, We can hope for much, much better things in 2018 and again in 2020. It is truly a nightmare, and it will take all of us, including those who now march, show up at town hall meetings, carry signs, write their legislators, and make phone calls. We cannot grow weary in the fight for justice and freedom for all!

Comments are closed.