Religion gives you a pass to break whatever rules seem to not apply to you

Which is very handy if you are a Department of Motor Vehicles desk clerk who hates Teh Gay. Or a Senator.

Thomas Demartini does or did work for the California DMV in San Francisco. A while back he refused to process a change of gender on the license paperwork for a transgender person. That apparently caused a bit of a stir but he kept his job and, apparently, was never retrained. Or maybe he was.

Anyway, when Amber Yust, recently transgendered herself, applied for the male to female change in status with the DMV, and she ended up with the same anti-gay desk clerk, things got weird.

Demartini used his access to her file to get her address and send her a letter condemning her to hell. A fundy church in the area sent her a DVD about eternal damnation and stuff, apparently provided with her address by Demartini (who mentions the church in his letter to her).

The California DMV is handling this poorly, as one might expect. They won’t say if they’ve fired Demartini.

The point I’d like to make about this is the following: In the more extreme ends of our social landscape there are people like Thomas Demartini who probably understand and generally follow the laws and regulations that they live with, like those restricting what you can and can not do as a government employee with access to people’s records, but who do not follow those rules when the guiding hand of their particular god tells them they don’t have to bother.

And, elsewhere on this social landscape we have people doing essentially the same thing … ignoring the laws of our land and our constitution, when convenient, such as the Republican and Blue Dog Democrat Senators who would not vote for cloture on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which is clearly a human rights violation.

For some reason, gayosity raises those who oppose it above the law of the land at several levels, civil servant and elected official alike. When is this going to stop?

Hat tip GS Olson for the story.

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25 thoughts on “Religion gives you a pass to break whatever rules seem to not apply to you

  1. now we are going to bury you.. And the lesson from all of this? DOUBLE! What do you want, you little fuckers? more of these idiots

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prizes_for_evidence_of_the_paranormal

    HOW N WON ALL THE PARANORMAL PRIZES!

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostradamus

  2. It is just hard to believe this happened in SF, of all places. I guess if it could happen here, it must be 10 times worse everywhere else. We I to pull something like that, I would not be able to defend my position. At. All. I would be minus my job and be defending my nursing license.

  3. Seems like the church in question is a “sedevacantist” Catholic splinter group – i.e. they tack hard to the right of even Hitlerjunge Ratzinger’s positions. They call themselves a ‘monastery’, but only two ‘monks’ seem to live there – which might go a way toward explaining why they spend so much time pondering the sinfulness of gay sex. Although this group’s extremist position doesn’t really matter – Demartini’s “civil disobedience” seems perfectly in line with the anti-gay “Manhattan Declaration” which was embraced by mainstream Catholicism, so you can’t really blame it on just “a few extremists”.

    But the DMV is handling the case pretty poorly – beyond the issue of discrimination of minorities, privacy issues like this affect the core of public trust in their institution. Makes one wonder how much back-up this bigot has higher up in the hierarchy.

  4. I’d imagine that you consider yourself a fair and unprejudiced person PhilipIV.

    Yet, presumably because you dislike him/Catholics, you think it’s reasonable to label a child who grew up in Nazi Germany and was forced (like all the others) to join the Hitler Youth “Hitlerjunge Ratzinger”.

    Would you label all the German children forced to participate? Or just those you are prejudiced against?

  5. Ender, if Sophie Scholl had the courage and ability to loose her head rather than support the Nazi’s, then so did Joeseph Ratzinger, who was just a few years younger. So yes, anyone in the “Hitlerjunge” who was over the age of about 12 or so was complicit to some degree. If they spent their life overcoming that and doing good, they might get a pass from me (and others). Ratzinger, however, has not spent his life doing good, he’s spent it supporting and rising in an organization devoted to spreading superstition.

  6. It’s interesting that in the comments now (#4) we have the argument that one has the responsibility to disobey laws that one finds ethically repugnant. I’d disobey a law I found ethically reprehensibleâ??such as one denying a gender change to a transgender person, or denying marriage to a gay couple. I might even point to my religion as justification of my ethical beliefs (I attend a synagogue where gay people have been ritually married for ten years, and that has had transgender clergy). And I guarantee you I still wouldn’t be getting a free pass. This is about a society that can support exceptionalism for people who are conservative, but not for those who are progressive. It is easier for the majority of people to understand and relate to the fear of those who are like them rather than the courage of those who differ.

  7. So… you would condemn everyone who was forced to join the Hitler Youth… but not if they make up for it by doing things that you approve of?

    Nice.

    Fair people do not condemn children for being conscripted when they live in a Nazi country.

    Especially not an unenthusiastic member who refused to attend meetings. But you know, maybe the fact that one young person resisted and was killed for their trouble means that all the other 14 year olds out there were morally culpable for not rebelling against their entire country and insane violent leader. What bastards.

  8. If you are an employee disagreeing with a law for whatever reasons, you have two choice:
    set your own morals aside and implement the law
    look for a new job that does not force you to act against your own morals

    As to the HJ history of Ratzinger: the arrogance to pass judgement from the security of a country where I assume the rule of law still has some meaning is astounding.
    Who is this idiot who from the security he at present enjoys
    equates the very mature political insights of the Scholl siblings with the knowledge of 12 – 14 years old who where forced to join a nation wide organization?
    here would those youth even have gotten the information from to make a decision to not join? Do you have any inkling of the political atmosphere? Do you really ask anybody from your perch of security to become a martyr?
    Who the fuck are you asshole to place that demand on anybody?

  9. I’d disobey a law I found ethically reprehensibleâ??such as one denying a gender change to a transgender person, or denying marriage to a gay couple. I might even point to my religion as justification of my ethical beliefs

    A very honorable and appropriate stand, I’d say.

    Of course, you can’t take a job in which you’ll be asked as part of that job to violate your own ethics. Taking a job where you know that might happen is repugnant and unethical. You need to restrict the jobs you take to those where this will not happen. If you were in error or things change and you must then do something against your ethics, then you must quit. This is not hard.

    If the thing you’ve been asked to do is also illegal you must report it. If you work for a government that does what should be illegal (the Nazis, etc.) then you must leave that society and join those fighting it. Isn’t this all rather obvious?

    The man in this story knew full well what his job entailed, and if he did not he should have quit the first time around.

  10. Haul his sorry ass off to court for unlawful use of private information. The DMV will drop him like the sack of shit he is if they have any concerns at all about him losing the case because they would want to disavow any responsibility in the matter. Sounds like yet another job for the ACLU.

  11. The California DMV is handling this poorly, as one might expect. They won’t say if they’ve fired Demartini.

    Apparently, the same privacy laws he violated prevent them from commenting on it. Oh, the irony!

  12. Mike, the existence of the word “privacy law” does not mean that everything that happens to occur to you is private! The names and salaries and departments of who works for the state, in every state, is public information.

  13. I used to work for the Health Department in my state. There was guy there who worked as a public health educator. He refused to conduct educational programs for STD prevention, saying it was against his religion. In the seven years I worked there, he was the only person I ever saw get fired. Even that was a long and drawn out process due to civil service laws.

    There comes a point where you have to ask someone, “Why did you even take this job if its basic functions violate your beliefs?” I mean, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in blood transfusions, so I wouldn’t expect one to be interested in working as a phlebotomist.

  14. Peter, might I offer option 1. b) Do your job, but fight the law in your private capacity, without engaging in severe violations of other people’s privacy.

  15. Greatbear:

    To become a martyr for those beliefs, of course. In recent years, some “pro-life” churches have started encouraging their parishioners to pursue careers as pharmacists, specifically so they can refuse emergency contraception to their customers. From their perspective, it’s a win-win: If they get away with it, yay, they just prevented a baby-killin’! If they fail, they get to be martyrs and get lots of public attention for their terrible persecution, and maybe even get laws passed so they can legally refuse to do their job in the future.

  16. Greatbear, don’t make assumptions! I have a sister in law who is a rabid Jehovahs witness, and she trained to be a phlebotomist and work in labs. You know, where you have to type and crossmatch blood and give them out to people for transfusions..talk about dissonance!

  17. You need to restrict the jobs you take to those where this will not happen. If you were in error or things change and you must then do something against your ethics, then you must quit. This is not hard.

    Apply this thinking to people that suffer an injury, or age, or are transgenered or come out of the closet. All of those situations have impacts upon employment, just like this ass-hat’s religion does. Should their employment be protected?

  18. Fred: Apply this thinking to people that suffer an injury, or age, or are transgenered or come out of the closet.

    If somebody who came out of the closet used that as an excuse to refuse to provide services to, say, conservative christians, then I’d be all for firing their asses too.

  19. Fred, we are obviously talking about the straight forward cases, and that is appropriate. We do not need to do the wrong thing on a day to day basis because doing the right thing might somehow get messy 1 on a thousand times.

    Another example that comes to mind is a problem we had in the Twin Cities with cab drivers who discovered that it was against their religion to transport passengers from the airport who were carrying spirits in their luggage. I think initially there was a great deal of confusion, but at this point it is pretty clear: If you want to be a cab driver, you can’t refuse a fair without good reason, and thats not a good reason.

    The principle that applies here is: Suck it up or go away. Really, not hard.

  20. Why aren’t their beliefs good reason?

    Anyway I’d be pretty interested in an ethnographic breakdown of Twin Cities cab drivers and cab riders. I’d bet it would reveal a bunch of rich white dudes telling Brown dudes their religion doesn’t matter in america(fuck yeah)

  21. As an employee I’d have no problem with him being fired by a private company. I do have a problem with a government insisting that religious beliefs be disregarded in order to acquire a license to engage in a business.

    Welllllll…….. Shit, now I’m thinking about religious “doctors” and that thought scares me, so I’ll just admit I’m wrong.

    I still side with the cab drivers though. Cognitive dissonance or what not.

  22. Fred, I don’t think it would work that way. For instance, in order to combat plain and simple racism that emerged in the 1960s and 70s in many cities among cabbies, such that they would not drive to certain parts of town or even pick up African Americans at all, rules were put into place: To keep your hackney license, you will take the fares. I don’t know what the Authority laws were in Minnesota, but I’m pretty sure that when the cabbies at the airport started suddenly to get selective about who they would drive … asking fares if they had spirits in their luggage … they were immediately fired.

    The cab companies are private, but under license, and the rules of how to work the airports are very strict. I.e., you can’t just drive to the airport and pick up a fare, you go to the airport and join the cab pool and everybody gets the same exact deal. You can only join the pool if you take someone there or are called there by the airport authority, etc. And, if you don’t follow the rules you lose your permit to even drive on airport property. Not all cabs can even go to the airport.

    The right of practicing religion was pitted directly against being forced to follow a government regulation in a highly regulated environment, not a gov. agency but darn close to it. I’m not sure what the outcome was, but as I recall, the cabbies were forced to either give up their airport privileges or to get with the program and not discriminate.

    It wasn’t seen as the Muslim cabbies being discriminated against by the courts, as I recall.

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