Posts Tagged “albany”

Rainbow FlagThe crybaby Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, is sure to flip out, if he hasn’t already. The New York Times reports that key votes in the state Senate have changed to which would permit gay marriage in the Empire State (WebCite cached article):

Thirty-three state senators have publicly declared they will support legalizing same-sex marriage, all but assuring passage of the measure which will make New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples can wed.

The Senate took up the measure just before 10 p.m., and the Senate galleries were packed with gay couples in support of the bill and religious opponents of it.

To date the chief objection to the legislation has been that it would force clergy to marry gays, even if their sect/cult/denomination/whatever objects to it on doctrinal grounds. But the governor proposed language which would alleviate that:

On Friday, the legislative leadership reached an agreement on a measure that they said would protect those religious institutions; that measure was approved Friday evening in the Assembly.

Note that such language is unnecessary; religious freedom already precludes forcing clergy to marry anyone they don’t want to marry. In its decision that allowed gay marriage here in my home state, the Connecticut Supreme Court stated so. My guess, though, is that the Religious Right will, nevertheless, keep throwing fits, continuing to promote the fiction that clergy being “forced” to marry gays is imminent — in spite of the fact that it’s not, and in spite of the unnecessary, explicit language that was added to the New York bill. They can’t help but do so … after all, lying is second-nature to them. They don’t know any better. Plus, they’re doing it for Jesus!

Photo credit: Castorp Republic.

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New York StatehouseAs most of my readers are probably aware, gay marriage is tantalizingly close to being legalized in the state of New York (WebCite cached article). The Religious Right in that state, naturally, is throwing fits over this possibility. Among them is New York’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan. He’s known for his screaming irrationality, which I’ve noted previously, for example, in a diatribe he penned on his own blog, accusing the New York Times of being “anti-Catholic” because it was insolent enough to dare run stories on the reports of abuse within the Catholic Church in Ireland. It was worldwide news for months, as first the Ryan report and then the Murphy report were released there — but the Archibishop thinks that newspapers who reported on them must — by definition — be “anti-Catholic.”

It almost goes without saying, then, that Dolan’s knickers are again in a knot, as Albany edges closer to allowing gay marriage. In his irrational, sanctimonious rage, he made a comparison that is, quite frankly, completely unreasonable (cached):

Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea. In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law. There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means.

Dolan dislikes the idea of gay marriage, therefore if the state of New York allows it, then New York will have become a vicious totalitarian regime that will kill people at will.

I have to ask: Your Excellency, are you serious? Or are you daft?

Dolan is — as usual — just being childish. The legalization of gay marriage has no relation to totalitarianism, no matter where it’s practiced. Permitting gay marriage will not — repeat not — affect anyone other than gays who wish to marry. Heterosexual people will not be forced to marry others of their own gender. It will never happen. If gay marriage is permitted in New York, it will not change the lives of heterosexual couples in any way. Period.

Note also that His Excellency’s complaint is, more or less, the fallacious debate tactic known as reductio ad Hitlerum. The only difference is that he’s naming different bogeymen than the Nazis or Adolf Hitler. Otherwise it’s the same thing.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn.

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Goddess / PentacleGoodness knows, I’m no fan of the TSA. But really, this is story is just ridiculous. A TSA agent working in Albany, NY was fired recently, and the fact that she’s a Wiccan was central in her firing. MSNBC reports on this would-be-laughable-if-it-weren’t-true debacle of fear and loathing (WebCite cached article):

Each person’s story is unique, but what happened to Carole A. Smith gives us a glimpse of the work life of the 400,000-plus Wiccans in the United States. And it sheds light on work life at the TSA, where the 40,000-plus public employees who keep bad people and bad things off of airplanes have started voting this month on whether to join a union.

It all started when one of Smith’s coworkers reported that she’d “threatened” her by “casting a spell” and following her home from work. TSA officials dutifully investigated:

The assistant director, Matthew W. Lloyd, testified later that he realized immediately there was no genuine threat of workplace violence. Smith hadn’t followed anyone home — that’s the only highway going toward her home from the airport. It was just a personality conflict made worse by fear of an unfamiliar religion.

He had a suggestion for Smith. She should enter into a formal mediation session with [Mary] Bagnoli, her accuser, through the TSA’s Integrated Conflict Management System, or ICMS. The mediation “would be a good venue to dispel any misconceptions” that her co-worker had about her religious beliefs, he told her.

“He wanted me to go to ICMS and sit down with Mary and explain my religion to her,” Smith said. “I’m like, ‘No.’ I refused to do that. It’s not up to me to teach her my religion. I mean, would I have to go down and sit with her if I was Jewish?”

That’s a very good question … and one that would crop up again later. Things degraded rapidly for Smith:

“Where did you park your broom?” she said one co-worker asked her. “Why don’t you come to work in your pointy hat?” She said one shift supervisor told another, “She’s going to put a hex on me.” …

She said another employee yelled at her in a baggage room, in front of other employees and a supervisor, “Get her the hell out of here! I can’t stand to look at her!” A co-worker advised her to transfer to another airport.

Eventually Smith’s seniors at TSA fired her; she filed an EEOC claim over it, though, and at a hearing, the administrative judge asked the same question Smith had originally asked, about why “mediation” would have been a good idea in the wake of Bagnoli’s (false) accusation:

Judge Macauley: Why? Why? Why? Why should that be a good venue? It should be an irrelevant venue. If Ms. Bagnoli has a problem with her religion, then she needs to be corrected that it’s not relevant on the job and to ignore it. Am I correct?

Lloyd: Yes. You’re absolutely correct.

Judge: Let’s take the witchcraft out of it. If someone complains to you, he’s Jewish, and refers to a stereotype about his Judaism, go to mediation and work it out? Is that management’s response to that?

Lloyd: No. That would not be management’s response to that.

Judge: OK. But witchcraft takes it into a different thing? I guess. I guess witchcraft and Judaism are different in the sense that — what?

Lloyd: To be perfectly honest, sir, at the time, I wasn’t even — I didn’t know anything about witchcraft or Wiccanism. … I wasn’t even aware that Wiccanism was a recognized religion at the time. I had to research it afterwards.

Smith lost the hearing nonetheless, and is appealing. But let’s be honest, Wiccans are intensely disliked, distrusted, and often shunned. OK, so Wicca isn’t my cup of tea either … but this is a free country, fercryinoutloud. Grow up and get over it already!

Hat tip: RozMarija at Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delpho Forums.

Photo credit: Wiccan & Proud.

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