Religious Liberty Under Fire

News: US News
by Kristine Christlieb  •  •  June 22, 2020   

NY congressman slams concept as 'bogus'

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NEW YORK ( - A Democrat congressman — who is a lapsed Catholic, "married" to another man, and father to three adopted children — is dancing on the grave of religious liberty, calling it a "bogus term" and a "pretext for discrimination hiding behind the guise of religion."

Neil Gorsuch

Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents New York's 18th Congressional District, made his statement in a Monday interview on MSNBC. He was reacting to the United States Supreme Court's landmark 6–3 decision to extend the scope of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect individuals experiencing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The decision would offer new protections to homosexual and so-called transgender people.

Until Monday's decision, more than half of U.S. states and territories had no worker protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But just as abortion became the law of the land with Roe v. Wade, transforming how Americans view and practice abortion, so will this Supreme Court decision dramatically affect interpretation and enforcement of U.S. employment law in a way that transforms the workplace as well as American culture.

Writing for the majority in a 172-page opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch held out a narrow ray of hope to people of faith when he suggested that concerns about "religious liberty" could alter the way Title VII is applied in future cases. According to Just the News reporting, Gorsuch's opinion invoked the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA), calling it a "super statute" that "might supersede Title VII's commands in appropriate cases."

Legislating Through the Courts

Missouri's junior senator, Josh Hawley, is saying what many people of faith are feeling — that the decision, effectively, is an end-run around the will of the people.

This decision, and the majority who wrote it, represents the end of something. It represents the end of the conservative legal movement, or the conservative legal project, as we know it. After Bostock, that effort, as it has existed up to now, is over. I say this because if textualism and originalism give you this decision, if you can invoke textualism and originalism in order to reach such a decision—an outcome that fundamentally changes the scope and meaning and application of statutory law—then textualism and originalism and all of those phrases don’t mean much at all.

And if those are the things that we’ve been fighting for—it’s what I thought we had been fighting for, those of us who call ourselves legal conservatives—if we’ve been fighting for originalism and textualism, and this is the result of that, then I have to say it turns out we haven’t been fighting for very much.

Or maybe we’ve been fighting for quite a lot, but it’s been exactly the opposite of what we thought we were fighting for.

Now, this is a very significant decision and it marks a turning point for every conservative. And it marks a turning point for the legal conservative movement.

Vested Interest in Judicial Activism

For many observers, it comes as not surprise that Democrats, especially a homosexual congressman with a dog in the hunt, would want to attack religious liberty. Maloney has been defending transgender issues for years.

In a 2017 one-on-one with Tucker Carlson, Maloney attacked President Trump's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. In making his case, Maloney said, "There's not a reason on earth you would kick them [transgenders] out [of the military] except for prejudice."

Carlson immediately called him out for saying he was prejudiced and for ignoring the medical costs associated with transgender transitioning as well as legitimate concerns about military readiness. Carlson called Maloney "an extremist posing as a rational person."

When he arrived in New York in 1992, he was out of the closet and looking for love. That's where he found his partner, Randy Florke.

Though Maloney was raised in a Catholic family, his lifestyle and views bare little resemblance to the faith of his youth.

Sean Patrick Maloney (center) with his partner and children

In the Vows section of the Sunday, New York Times, where stories about how couples got from dating to "I do" are published, Maloney reveals that in high school he dated women. The story doesn't report on his college experience; however, it does say that after Maloney graduated from the University of Virginia in 1988, he spent a year in Peru with the Jesuits, then went to law school. When he arrived in New York in 1992, he was out of the closet and looking for love. That's where he found his partner, Randy Florke. The story read:

In the close-knit world of New York City's gay scene, circa 1992, Randy Florke was a somebody — flaxen-haired model, up-and-coming designer, Studio 54 habitué and downtown bon vivant. But on the night he met the man who would become his husband two decades later, he was being treated like a nobody.

The doorman at the Roxy nightclub in Chelsea, a popular hangout, had failed to recognize him, sending Mr. Florke into an unfamiliar social Siberia — waiting in line on the sidewalk outside. Sulking, he barely noticed the slightly tipsy and very nervous younger man waiting next to him.

Both men have lived their lives in the spotlight — Maloney as a U.S. congressman and Florke as an interior designer and reality TV star. The pair live in the Hudson River hamlet of Cold Spring. In 2014, they married in an Episcopal ceremony wearing matching Ralph Lauren dinner jackets, "black for the ceremony, cream-hued for the reception."

At the reception, as drones flew overhead clicking photos, the couple took to the dance floor for their first dance. Joan Osborne, a personal friend, sang, "Make You Feel My Love."

A few days later, Politico reported: "A New York congressman who sits on the House committee that oversees the Federal Aviation Administration commissioned a video of his wedding last month using a drone even though the FAA bans drone flights for commercial purposes."

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