Friday, December 01, 2006

Blind Intolerance

As we all know far too well, Sam Brownback has the well-earned reputation of being the voice of the religious right in the United States Senate. While some of his views clearly align him on the side of compassion and justice (particularly his efforts to end the genocide in Darfur and to address the crisis in Northern Uganda), his religious fervor has also placed him repeatedly on the side of moral self-righteousness and intolerance. As an influential member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is in a position to publicly inject these views throughout the confirmation process of countless federal judicial nominations.

Most recently, he has taken the audacious step of placing a procedural “hold” on the nomination of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet T. Neff to be a U.S. District Court judge. It’s not because of her qualifications or her record as a judge. No, it’s because she attended a lesbian commitment ceremony for her neighbor of 20 years…a legally non-binding ceremony conducted by a minister in Massachusetts.

And why would a judicial nominee place her confirmation in jeopardy by doing something like that? After all, it surely wasn’t the supportive act of a friend during an important event in her life. More so, it was probably a definitive statement of her judicial philosophy on the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage. "It seems to speak about her view of judicial activism," says an incredulous Brownback.

It constantly amazes me that the groups and individuals whose religious views are most intertwined with their lives and their ideologies do not practive more tolerance. Somehow they fail realize that every effort they undertake today to discriminate, condemn, and persecute others simply because of who they are, makes it more and more inevitable that they will find themselves on the receiving end of that intolerance tomorrow.

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