Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Don't allow beliefs to become bias

It comes as no surprise that religious groups have called on President Barack Obama to exempt them from any executive order that would ban discrimination of gays and lesbians by companies that do business with the government. This is one of the predictable consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court's wrongheaded opinion that exempts closely held companies from providing health coverage that covers contraceptives if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. The court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case has emboldened conservatives who seek to elevate their personal religious beliefs above the rights of others. The Obama administration should not waver in its commitment to stamp out discrimination against all Americans, regardless of its source.

In a closely watched case, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby, a for-profit chain of crafts stores, in a 5-4 ruling that cited a federal religious freedom law in declaring that closely held companies could avoid complying with Affordable Care Act regulations that require that health plans cover contraception. While the court's majority argued the decision was narrowly drawn, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a stinging dissent that the majority opinion was a "decision of startling breadth." The next day, a religious group sent a letter to the president asking that he weaken his commitment to providing protection for gay and lesbian workers employed by federal contractors. The group wants the president to establish a "robust religious exemption" for companies that do not support homosexuality. The letter is signed by conservative Christian heavyweights such as Rick Warren, the bestselling author and megachurch pastor who delivered the invocation at Obama's first inauguration.

President Bill Clinton issued an executive order in 1998 that protects federal employees who are homosexuals from workplace discrimination. Obama is right to plan to close the gap and extend the same protections to the employees of federal contractors. The order would protect an estimated 14 million workers in the 29 states that don't currently have bans on discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers.

Not all religious groups support seeking an exemption from protections for gay workers. But those that do have stretched the religious freedom argument too far. Granting their request would open the door for all manner of legalized bigotry and witch hunts. How, for example, would a company determine an employee's sexual orientation? One person's religious liberties should not trample upon another's freedoms, particularly when they involve personal choices that have little to do with whether or not an employee can do the job at hand.

The Obama administration should remain focused on what is a clear directive from the Constitution, to protect the rights of all Americans, not just those with widely accepted religious beliefs and lifestyles.

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Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

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Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

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Published: 12/08/17
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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17