In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality last month, city council members in Pasco, WA are considering a resolution proposed by Councilman Bob Hoffman that would enable business owners in the city to use their religion as a weapon against others. (Read about it in this Tri-City Herald article.)
The resolution mirrors that of one put forth by Councilman John Trumbo inthe neighboring city of Kennewick one month ago. The “Resolution affirming Freedom of Conscience” is based on one drafted by the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an organization with ties to Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal team defending the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, who lost in court when a judge determined she had violated Washington’s consumer protections laws when she refused to sell flowers for the wedding of Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll.
Speaking about “businesses in our community [being] forced by the attorney general to have compelled artistic expressions” Councilman Hoffman said, “I think the consensus of our community, if you talk to a bunch of people and the votes in our area, is that this is not something we want and this is simply expressing the region’s take on this issue, and I think it’s important to make a public statement to that effect.”
We encourage any who live in the Tri-City area and beyond to email or call the city council members to let them know that there are, in fact, many of their constituents who do not share their arrogant and divisive views.
There should be no special accommodations for the religious when it infringes on the rights of others!
Contact info for the council members:
Mayor Matt Watkins, email@example.com, (509) 416-6696
Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik, firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 545-6134
Councilmember Al Yenney, email@example.com, (509) 547-8021
Councilmember Mike Garrison, firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 545-3404
Councilmember Bob Hoffmann, email@example.com, (509) 547-7373
Councilmember Saul Martinez, firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 547-7285
Councilmember Tom Larsen, email@example.com, (509) 545-9916
The following email was sent by Tri-City Freethinkers president, Jennifer Goulet.
Dear City of Pasco Council Members,
As a community leader and long-time voting resident of Pasco, I strongly urge you to abandon the foolish and embarrassing “Resolution affirming Freedom of Conscience” proposed by Councilman Bob Hoffman, which seeks to privilege religion by elevating the rights of religious people above the rights of others to not be discriminated against in public accommodations. With few exceptions, the courts at every level have found that anti-discrimination laws have no bearing on individual religious beliefs.
Addressing Councilman Hoffman specifically, I would caution you to reexamine your belief that “the consensus of our community, if you talk to a bunch of people and the votes in our area, is that this is not something we want and this is simply expressing the region’s take on this issue.” Many of your constituents, religious and nonreligious alike, do not share such arrogant and divisive views. Many of your constituents, whom you have been elected to represent, are appalled by the use of religious freedom as a weapon to tread on the rights of others. Many of your constituents view your attempt to pander to a religious base in such a way as a blight on our community’s reputation.
To the other council members, I am disappointed that any of you would consider adding this resolution to the agenda. Councilman Hoffman’s suggestion should have been immediately dismissed as legally dubious, selfish, irresponsible, and inhumane.
Discrimination, for any reason, is bad for business, bad for communities, and bad for human beings—especially those whom Hoffman and his ilk so callously disregard as second-class citizens.
Should you choose to adopt this resolution, know that your action will not go unchallenged and the legal and financial repercussions of your decision for our city will be on your heads.
Jennifer Goulet, President
Atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists have long been active allies in the fight to grant equal rights to our LGBT friends, family, and strangers across the country.
Opposition to their rights to equal treatment under the law is based in outdated religious dogma, and today a majority of our Supreme Court Justices have upheld what we have long known to be true: that religion does not and cannot trump our secular government.
The Tri-City Freethinkers will once again play host to Australian Indie singer/songwriter Shelley Segal, who will be back in town to grace us with her enchanting and thought-provoking songs infused with “elements of jazz, folk, pop, blues, reggae and electronica.”
“An artist, an activist and an explicit storyteller, Shelley uses her music not only to express the way she sees the world, but to create the world that she wants to see.”
Please RSVP via Meetup by clicking below.
In case you missed seeing Shelley Segal the last two times she was in town performing for us, take comfort that you will get another chance late this summer! Details coming soon, but for now, enjoy this video taken in April 2013 when she played at Zinful in Kennewick.
For Mid-Columbia Pride Week, the Tri-City Freethinkers will host special guest speaker, Greta Christina, the well-known author and public speaker on atheism, sexuality, sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is co-founder of the Godless Perverts, a performance series and social community that promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion.
Greta will discuss what the atheist movement can learn from the LGBT movement. “The atheist movement is already modeling itself on the LGBT movement in many ways — most obviously with its focus on coming out of the closet. What else can the atheist movement learn from the LGBT movement… both from its successes and its failures?”
Greta will be doing a book signing following the talk. Books will be available for purchase.
This free event, cosponsored by Pride Foundation, will be held on Tuesday, June 16th at 6:00 pm at the Shilo Inn International Ballroom at 50 Comstock St. in Richland.
Pride Foundation is a regional community foundation that inspires giving to expand opportunities and advance full equality for LGBTQ people in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Visit www.pridefoundation.org.
The Tri-City Freethinkers will participate in Yuri’s Night, an international celebration held every April 12th to commemorate milestones in space exploration. Dr. James Conca will speak on the Planetary Geology Survey of our Solar System, followed by a live presentation of the sky and the film Secret Lives of the Stars.
Dr. Conca is a Senior Scientist with UFA Ventures. Conca obtained a Ph.D. in Geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1985, as well as a Masters in Planetary Science in 1981, and a BS in Geology and Biochemistry from Brown University in 1979. He has worked at NASA JPL and JSC, PNNL, WSUTC, Los Alamos and NMSU.
This is the description of the film:
“Some stars are massive. Others are tiny; almost insignificant. The specific characteristics of a star will determine what type of life it will lead and how long it might live. We will witness the amazing variety of stars and peer into their secret lives. Narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart. Recommended for first grade children and up. 25 minutes.”
This event is exclusive to the Tri-City Freethinkers and will take place at 2 pm on Sunday, April 12th at the Bechtel National Planetarium on the Columbia Basin College campus at 2600 N. 20th Ave. in Pasco. Please RSVP at our Meetup event page. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated!
Should atheists take an active role in the conservative political movement? Join the discussion at the next Tri-City Freethinkers meeting at 1:30 pm on March 22nd at the Mid-Columbia Library on Union St. in Kennewick.
As you may be aware, last month the American Atheists had a presence at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for the first time in history, and board member, Jamila Bey, controversially addressed an audience there to little fanfare.
This meeting is to be an exploration of the role atheists can or should have in trying to make inroads with political conservatives and whether the ideals of conservativism or Libertarianism, once stripped of religious issues and leaders, can be compatible with the values of humanism.
We will watch the video of Bey’s speech (just under 7 minutes long) and follow it up with a civil conversation.
We have a very diverse group of people that are involved with the Tri-City Freethinkers. Though an easy majority likely identify more with liberal values and politics, there is a sizable constituency of group members who identify as conservative or Libertarian. Obviously, atheism in and of itself does not define our values or politics as it is merely the lack of belief in a deity. Not all of us in this group may even identify with the label atheist.
The Tri-City Freethinkers, as a nonprofit organization, takes no political sides. Our mission is to serve and support the nonreligious community, regardless of their political views. We want those of all political persuasions to feel welcome to attend and express your views at this meeting, with an emphasis on civil conversation.
RSVPs at our Meetup event page are appreciated, but not required.
Nominations for the positions of vice president, secretary, and at-large director will be accepted at the January 18th meeting at 1:30 pm at the Richland Public Library. Each nominee will be given an opportunity to speak briefly about their background, experience, how they will benefit the organization, etc.
Nominations will be followed by a general discussion about upcoming events in 2015.
Voting will take place at the Annual Election Meeting on February 8th at 3:00 pm at the Mid-Columbia Library on Union in Kennewick.
Voting members are limited to those current on annual membership dues as of the date of the election meeting. Dues are $50, which can be paid with cash or check at the meeting, or you can pay in advance with a debit/credit card via PayPal by clicking on the “Donate now” button at www.tricityfreethinkers.or