TX Judge Rules PrEP Coverage Violates Religious Freedom Of Zealots To Live In World Where Gays Die Of AIDS
After the Dobbs decision came down, we had a piece about how, if they hadn't already, it was time for white cisgender gay guys to start caring. Because abortion is a constitutional right and it's wrong to force people to be pregnant if they don't wish to be? Haha golly no, if that argument had worked, all white cis gays would have been marching for abortion years ago!
It's because ever since that decision happened, fascist Christian activists have been frothing out of their disgusting faceholes to use that new precedent and Donald Trump's illegitimate partisan hack Supreme Court to bring the rest of society under the thumb of their hateful religious beliefs.
Specifically, that post was about PrEP, the game-changing pill taken by gay guys all over the place that pretty much reduces the chances of HIV transmission to nada. Despite what religious extremists believe, consensual sex between adults should never be a punishable act, either by infection or by unwanted pregnancy. Combine PrEP with HIV drugs that reduce a person's detectability levels to nothing and allow people to live completely normal, long lives, and HIV is effectively neutralized, at least in populations that can access the pills.
So of course this fascist Jonathan Mitchell, the former solicitor general of Texas and the brain wizard who came up with Texas's bounty hunter abortion ban, went to court to make sure mom-and-pop bigot businesses didn't have to cover PrEP in their insurance packages. Because it totally should be up to your employer what kind of fucking you do. And if your employer's religious beliefs are just that "gays should die of AIDS" — because let's be real, that's one of the pillars of fundamentalist Christianity — then sucks to be you, because those sound like very sincere religious beliefs!
Guess what a vile rightwing judge in Texas just did?
A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday struck down an Affordable Care Act requirement that insurers and employers offer plans that cover HIV-prevention drugs.
The ruling came as part of a broader decision that was a partial victory to Obamacare opponents who challenged the Affordable Care Act mandates for coverage of preventive care services without charge.
US District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the requirement that employers offer insurance plans that cover HIV-prevention pills, known as PrEP drugs, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, this is being argued under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), because again, these people's religious beliefs are basically just "If you have an orgasm I don't approve of, I'm OK with you dying of that." Just like how in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor rulings, the Court found fun and creative ways to rule that if employers don't approve of their employees having sex without the threat of forced pregnancy, employers should be able to deny them contraceptive coverage.
And so it came to be that this judge Reed O'Connor — who is well-known for being a lunatic who writes lunatic anti-gay opinions — has made this ruling that bends over backward for the Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs of people who think it's gross when peeners touch and whose imaginary conception of God is that of a deity who also cries big wet God tears when peeners touch.
Chris Geidner has some context on the judge:
\u201cO\u2019Connor also has a history of anti-LGBTQ rulings, both as to marriage and Title IX\u2019s sex discrimination ban. \n\nHe also has a history of overstepping, even in this era, and his rulings have repeatedly been reversed on appeal or effectively overturned by contrary SCOTUS opinions.\u201d— Chris \u201cSubscribe to Law Dork!\u201d Geidner (@Chris \u201cSubscribe to Law Dork!\u201d Geidner) 1662561789
And yes, Jonathan Mitchell is the lawyer on this batshit case, which argued in part:
The mandate, the plaintiffs argued in its initial complaint, “forces religious employers to provide coverage for drugs that facilitate and encourage homosexual behavior, prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and intravenous drug use.”
That's a big problem for fascist rightwing America, when fundamentalist Christian bosses can't control what their employees do with their genitals in the off hours.
And to be clear, the plantiffs aren't even trying to say they're specifically religious outfits. The main one listed in the ruling is Braidwood Management, Inc., which the judge laughably calls a "Christian for-profit Corporation," a designation that couldn't be typed with a straight face were it not for the fact that Christian fascism has been slithering through our courts for decades now. But no, it's just a regular company.
It's not clear how broad this ruling will be or how many Americans it will hurt if it's allowed to stand. The judge hasn't issued a "remedy" — AKA directed the parties what to do — and has asked for more briefs from litigants.
But this decision isn't even just about PrEP, although in the complaint and the ruling, you can see that the target of this lawsuit is entirely things that make Christian conservatives feel tingly sadnesses in their loins. But in order to give these whinyass God-bothering freaks everything they asked for, the judge declares unconstitutional the United States Preventive Services Task Force, a panel within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that decides what should be covered under the preventive care mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Why? Buncha legal-sounding words we're sure won't be on the exam.
So therefore, here's a few more things that are fucked, according to fuckwit's ruling:
As part of the ruling, O’Connor declared unconstitutional part of the broader preventive services mandate, which requires insurers and employers to cover at no charge screenings for cancer and heart disease, as well as programs for smoking cessation, among many others.
Cancer and heart disease are probably God's punishments for something or other, after all.
Again, all of this about "religious freedom" is horseshit.
If these people want to go to church and misunderstand their Bibles so strongly that they think the book is mostly about how gay people are bad and all sex is bad, they're free to. But in this warped society we live in, it's become commonly accepted in rightwing legal brain trusts that people living their lives in ways fundamentalist Christians don't approve of is in and of itself a burden upon their exercise of their religion, and that if fundamentalists have to abide by the same rules as everyone else — like if they have some garbage company that employs members of the public and they provide healthcare — they are ipso facto being discriminated against if said healthcare provides for HIV prevention drugs or contraceptives.
Here's a blistering statement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling it an "extreme MAGA ruling" and an "extreme MAGA judge's assault."
\u201cReferring to Reed O'Connor as an "Extreme MAGA Judge," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi strongly criticizes today's ruling, calling it a "disturbing decision amounts to open homophobia."\u201d— Chris \u201cSubscribe to Law Dork!\u201d Geidner (@Chris \u201cSubscribe to Law Dork!\u201d Geidner) 1662561789
So there you go. Some white bigots in Texas scored a victory in taking HIV prevention away, because it hurts their religious beliefs to think that somewhere out there some faggot might not be dying of AIDS.
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