Rewire announces tracking tool for religious imposition bills.

Rewire this morning announced via email a new interactive tool for tracking the landscape of “religious imposition bills” (generally referred to by the enemies of humanity as “Religious Freedom™ bills”). As the release notes, already in 2017, 30 such bills have been introduced in state legislatures around the nation, including New York. It’s a good page to bookmark whether you are a writer or activist, as the fight on this front directly intersects with so many others. In addition, being a squeaky wheel at your state representatives’ offices and local newspaper is something all of us can do, and do more of, whenever these bills pop up.

__________

To: Interested parties
From: Rewire President and Editor in Chief Jodi L. Jacobson, and Director of Communications Rachel Perrone
Re: Tracking tool for religious imposition bills
Date: January 18, 2017

We are writing to alert you to our Religious Imposition Legislative Tracker, a new resource from Rewire that provides a comprehensive database and interactive map of state and federal legislation that seeks to expand religious power control of decision-making in the public and private sphere.

The past few years have seen a sharp increase in legislative efforts to shield private individuals and businesses from complying with nondiscrimination laws, and permit them to deny people basic services based on stated religious beliefs. Around 30 such religious imposition bills have been introduced so far in 2017, in Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Religious imposition frequently takes the form of expanded Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) in state legislatures across the country. Other types of religious imposition include anti-transgender bills (or so-called “bathroom bills”), that target specific groups and seek to shield businesses and individuals from anti-discrimination laws. Still others, such as conscience and refusal bills, permit civil servants, health-care workers, and others to deny people access to birth control, abortion and other basic services based on a moral or religious objection.

Additional Resources:

** A Timeline of the Religious Imposition Laws Sweeping the Nation

** How We Can Combat the Legislation Taking Aim at Transgender People Around the Country

** The Biggest Religious Imposition Fight Teed Up for 2017

Rewire, 7315 Wisconsin Ave. Ste. 400, Bethesda, MD 20814 United States

Some thoughts on activism.

The statement at refusefascism.org is, at the very least, a call to participate in the kind of organizing necessary (although not sufficient) to bring about meaningful political and cultural change. Despite consistently numbering in the minority, the US right has been wildly successful in affecting law, culture and policy for decades in large part because they have consistently organized, whereas for various reasons the left is a notorious herd of cats.

When it comes to leftist activism, I am a big believer in “all hands on deck”. Not everyone agrees on every lefty issue, or gives every progressive agenda item the same weight. Naturally, there are leaders and organizations that focus on single issues. But the fact remains that if we can find ways to connect and support each other, much more could be accomplished than if we remain focused only on the narrow set of issues that are near and dear to us personally. People of color need whites to amplify their voices and otherwise support them by doing what they ask of us. Ditto men with women, straights with queer people, and every other group on every other axis of privilege and oppression.

It’s also important to encourage many different kinds and levels of activism. Not everyone is willing (or able) to make phone calls to their congresscritter’s office, but they might submit something online during a public comment period. Not everyone is willing to risk arrest for civil disobedience, but might show up to a planned disruption to document police actions. My hope is that this blog will provide opportunities for us all to participate in ways we otherwise might not: a phone campaign, a local protest, a cause worth funding, a boycott of xyz corp., a march in DC, help for a specific person in trouble right now, and other possibilities we cannot presently predict. Consider that one-day women’s strike in Poland halted an abortion ban. Activism like that could have a tremendous impact in the US, and a necessary first step is publicizing and making such ideas mainstream.

Finally, my fervent wish is that anyone and everyone concerned about Trump and berserker right-wing governance (including myself) examine—and challenge—what “willing and able” really means to each of us personally. For outstanding activist examples we need look no further than FtB’s very own Caine, the women leaders of Black Lives Matter and my late, great friend Niki Massey. For those who didn’t know her, Niki was black, female, physically disabled, in chronic pain, mentally ill, queer and poorand she still did fucking clinic escort. In Minnesota. In winter. The bar these women have set is extraordinarily high, and although I may never reach it, I sure as hell can try harder to reach toward it. Can you?

Let’s do this.