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Rainbow hearse remains optional (but it's getting lots of business in England)


Hobby Lobby and its deeply held beliefs against paying for slut pills notwithstanding, a federal court decided yesterday that not all businesses can use religion as the basis for discrimination. In a Michigan case, a funeral home was told no, it can't fire a funeral director simply for being transgender, since that would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex. No, not even if the funeral home says it has a "deeply held belief" that transgender folks oughtn't be making little steeples with their fingers, selling obscenely overpriced caskets, or referring to "the loved one" in an oddly sepulchral tone. (Yr Wonkette would never stereotype trans people, but we're perfectly fine with stereotyping funeral home workers. Such hypocrisy.)

The case involved R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., which had hired Aimee Stephens in 2007 when she presented as male. Stephens had an exemplary work record and eventually became a funeral director, but after six years at the Fun Home, announced plans to transition to female. At that, the owner, Thomas Rost, fired her. Rost had argued that under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the same law cited in the Hobby Lobby case, the funeral home wasn't subject to the growing body of legal precedent that transgender people are protected against discrimination, because like Hobby Lobby, it was Harris Funeral Homes' deeply held belief that employing a transgender person was not allowed by the Bible. (If you ask us, we think the absence of anyone named "Harris" here is also pretty fishy.)

The ruling comes even as Trumpland is trying to limit the interpretation of Title VII to exclude LGBT folks, although that may be too late already. The case had been brought by Stephens and by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Judge Karen Nelson Moore, of the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, wasn't at all convinced that the employer's ability to exercise religion was affected by having a transgender employee. In her opinion, Nelson wrote that the lower district court, which had decided in favor of the funeral home, got it dead wrong:

The unrefuted facts show that the Funeral Home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer’s stereotypical conception of her sex [...] RFRA provides the Funeral Home with no relief because continuing to employ Stephens would not, as a matter of law, substantially burden Rost’s religious exercise, and even if it did, the EEOC has shown that enforcing Title VII here is the least restrictive means of furthering its compelling interest in combating and eradicating sex discrimination.

As for the matter of the Fun Home's claim that allowing Stephens to do her job as a woman would harm Rost's deeply held religious beliefs, the opinion essentially said tough doody, you might be a place that hosts funeral services, but you're not a religious institution:

The Funeral Home itself, however, is not affiliated with a church; it does not claim to have a religious purpose in its articles of incorporation; it is open every day, including Christian holidays; and it serves clients of all faiths.

And a funeral director, whatever their gender, is just another working stiff, so settle down.

Sharon McGowan of Lambda Legal, which had fired a brief supporting Stephens, said the decision was especially welcome as the Trump-Pence administration tries to narrow LGBT rights and to "create safe havens for those who want to discriminate":

[This] decision makes clear that there is a compelling government interest in ending anti-LGBT discrimination [...] Employers and businesses do not get a free pass to discriminate simply by asserting a religious objection to the existence of transgender people.

Judge Moore sent the case back to the lower court, instructing it to reconsider its decision in light of the appeals court's ruling, which should certainly affect how the lower court considers the body of evidence.

Yr Wonkette is not a lawyer, but we worry that this case may not be gone for good, since the funeral home is represented by the rightwing Alliance Defending Freedom, founded by James Dobson, which pushed the Hobby Lobby case. They'll keep shambling forward with this case like the Litigating Dead. We wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we soon start hearing Tucker Carlson getting very upset about all this: "Before your Aunt Tillie goes into the ground, do you want a man in women's clothes embalming her? What is America coming to? Won't someone think of the corpses?"

Yr Wonkette is supported solely by reader donations. Please click here to send us money. Don't stiff us, OK?

[Buzzfeed / Image by Bramley's Independent Funeral Directors, Goldthorpe on Facebook]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Guys, it's been one more shit day in a shit week in the fifth shit month of another shit Trump year. Which is why I need to remind you that it's not ALL shit out there! Oh, sure, it's MOSTLY shit, but you know what isn't shit? YR WONKETTE, and the strange community of strange internet people who have made getting through all this shit a bit more tolerable, that's who and what. Which is why you should give us money, so we can keep whanging away at the walls of shit with our shovels and laughing at the shit getting all over, because one of these days we will get it all cleaned up or at least not be up to our waists in shit, and we can all laugh about what a crazy fight it was, as St. Molly Ivins always kept reminding us.

In case you're new here, let me just remind you that Wonkette literally got me, Yr Dok Zoom, out of what wasn't quite poverty, but was pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck desperation. I started reading the site shortly before Barack Obama was elected, began commenting sometime in his first term, and submitted a story tip to Rebecca a few months after she bought the site for 47 dollars and a sandwich (I now understand it was a bit more than that). It was Memorial Day 2012, and she wrote back she was busy with some "stupid thing I have to do for some muneez," but would I like to try writing a blog post myself? "I understand if you say FUCK NO. But maybe you are thinking FUCK YES?" And then she warned me she paid only in Ameros. I did, the post was forgettable but OK, and then I wrote a thing (borrowed from now long-lost comments) that went semi-viral, and suddenly I was that hottest thing in publishing, a freelancer!

In less than a year, Rebecca asked you all to buy me to be your very own pet blogger, and my life suddenly became incredibly good, like as good as an Abba song. It's as good as "Dancing Queen." Thanks to the timing of the whole thing (and to Barry Obama and Nancy Pelosi), I actually had health insurance for the first time in years, a not inconsiderable thing. And you had an Editrix who was not working 12 hour days six and a half days a week and drinking too much from stress. Your continued donations helped hire Evan full time and Robyn and Bianca part time and a whole raft of freelancers, and now Rebecca is down to eight-hour days, five and a half days a week, and drinking because there's a madman in the White House and everything's terrible.

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There is a very normal article circulating on the internet right now by a fella named Don Boys (that's not the joke, the jokes are coming), who is both an insane batshit preacher, and also an insane batshit former member of the Indiana House of Representatives. (Also sometimes he blogs at the Daily Caller about how Mike Pence really went balls deep into the gay agenda when he swore in that insane batshit gay guy Rick Grenell as America's ambassador to Germany.)

This article, of course, is about Pete Buttigieg, because what are anti-gay buffoons obsessed with right now? Pete Buttigieg. Boys (still his name) is primarily concerned not with the simple fact that Buttigieg is gay, but with how gay Buttigieg really is. IN THE SEX WAY!

Well, Don, since you asked!

Shall we dive into this thing without the proper prophylactics? We shall.

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