by Max Brantley
I ranted a few days ago about the dishonesty of the "religious freedom" rally at the Arkansas Capitol. It was a religionists' rally meant to advance the anti-abortion, anti-contraception cause. Even Republicans in Congress recognize the danger of pushing limitations on women's access to birth control. But still the anti-choice group persists.
Happily, others recognize the emptiness of the religious freedom straw man.
Voters in North Dakota — North Dakota — yesterday rejected overwhelmingly a so-called religious liberty ballot amendment. It could have, among many terrible things, limited pre-natal care for unmarried pregnant women. A man could claim his religion allowed him to beat up (excuse me, discipline) his wife or children. (This mirrors the religious liberty argument offered by Arkansas's religious freedom lobby in defense of bullying of gay children.) Employers could discriminate on religious grounds against employees (such as by deciding what health coverage they deemed acceptable under their religious views — maybe no Viagra coverage for unmarried men as well as no birth control pills for women regardless of marital status.)
It was an ill-conceived and dangerous solution to a non-existent problem, said the Fargo newspaper.
It was the 10th defeat in 11 tries for ballot initiatives around the country aimed at limiting the rights of women, all put forward in the name of religion.
North Dakota voters also trounced a proposal to repeal the property tax.