Transgender Woman Suing Catholic Hospital

I’m a strong supporter of gay rights. I have no problem with them getting married, adopting and all-in-all getting a fair deal in our society. However I’ve gone over the Constitution and haven’t found the right for a transsexual to get breasts at a Catholic hospital. Seton Medical Center in Daly City, California has refused to allow the surgery to take place in its facilities. Although the hospital itself is refusing to comment, “system spokeswoman Elizabeth Nikels said in a written statement that the organization follows hospital policy according to Catholic teaching: ‘Vincentian and Catholic values form the basis of our identity and set the parameters for our ethics and standards of behavior in health care… Seton Medical Center, a Catholic hospital and a member of the Daughters of Charity Health System, provides services to all individuals. However, the hospital does not perform surgical procedures contrary to Catholic teaching; for example, abortion, direct euthanasia, transgender surgery or any of its related components.””

“I felt simply less than equal,” (Charlene Hastings) said. “Here I am, a woman. I had the reassignment surgery, and not to allow me this right, I felt violated.”

She is suing for money, claiming she suffered “shock, embarrassment, intimidation, physical distress and injury, humiliation, fear, stress and other damages.”

The basis for Hastings’ complaint rests on the Unruh Civil Rights Act of California. The act states:

All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and
equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion,
ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition are
entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages
facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments
of every kind whatsoever. Civil Code section 51(b)

The question then becomes: Would Unruh force Catholic hospitals to perform sterilization and/or abortion procedures on women when they are against Catholic teachings? I suspect that this would not. However what muddies the issue is the fact that I would suspect the hospital does breast augmentation surgery on women.

Therefore, if the hospital performs breast augmentation jobs on women, shouldn’t Hastings be allowed to have the procedure? I suppose it depends on whether Hastings is legally considered to be a woman or a man. If the Law considers Hastings a man, then the position of the hospital would be better than if she were legally a woman. This is no doubt complicated by the fact that her gender may differ depending on state or federal jurisdiction.

Then again to force the hospital to perform a procedure that goes against Church teachings is a direct infringement on religious freedom. If you are married in a Catholic church and then divorce, you can’t sue a Catholic church to perform your second marriage.

There are other institutions willing to perform the procedure but Hastings evidently feels that she wants to be a martyr. Personally I think there are better axes that need to be ground than bullying a religion, but I doubt she agrees.

Either way I suppose this case will probably have to be decided at a higher level.

UPDATE 01/23/2008:
Here’s what a California Catholic publication says about the secular vs religious divide on this issue:

The problem, however, is that we are not academics discussing theses at a serene remove from the workaday world. Our differing faiths are not mere hobbies. The secularist, the various theistic, and more particularly, the Christian religions are not, finally, avenues of personal fulfillment, to be relegated to the sanctuary of the heart. They demand a public conformance with what they propose, for they propose what each is convinced is the truth that brings social as well as personal fulfillment. Perhaps this is why our conversations so often break down into shouting matches across the abyss, as if we were so many warriors vaunting their cause. For that is, really, what we are. Secularists and theists are not engaged in a sharing of interesting though irrelevant ideas, but a war for the minds and hearts of mankind.

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50 Comments

  1. mgroves:

    What ever happened to free-market voting with your dollars? I’m sure there are a billion places (in California for crying out loud) that would love to perform the surgery. And I’m guessing because this is elective, this person has more than enough resources. I suspect this person is just trying to pick a fight.

  2. Sophia:

    “The question then becomes: Would Unruh force Catholic hospitals to perform sterilization and/or abortion procedures on women when they are against Catholic teachings? I suspect that this would not. ”

    Of course not! It’s perfectly okay for them not to do these things. What would not be okay is to offer such procedures to some women but not others.

    “However what muddies the issue is the fact that I would suspect the hospital does breast augmentation surgery on women.”

    Actually, that is not something that muddies the water. Rather, it is the very heart of the matter. The Urruh act calls for “full and equal accommodations, advantages
    facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments
    of every kind whatsoever”—and that is exactly what Charlene Hastings is asking for.

    The fact that what she is asking for is exactly what the law entitles to should not be seen as something that “muddies the issue”. Rather, it should be seen as the issue.

    And to “mgroves”—yes, surely there are other places in California that will perform the surgery. But are they of the same price, quality, and proximity? Should she have to settle for less on any of those accounts because of ILLEGAL discrimination?

  3. Scott Kirwin:

    Should she have to settle for less on any of those accounts because of ILLEGAL discrimination?

    But then you are forcing a private Catholic hospital to perform a procedure that goes against Catholic teachings. Doesn’t that interfere with religious expression? Consider that legally Hastings may be considered a woman, but in the eyes of the Church she is still a man. Plus the Church views transsexual operations as interference with God’s will; in its eyes children are born exactly as they are supposed to be. God doesn’t make mistakes.

  4. Marti Abernathey:

    “But then you are forcing a private Catholic hospital to perform a procedure that goes against Catholic teachings.”

    God doesn’t make mistakes? How about downs kids? Did he mean to make them? Should we let children die from leukemia because that’s just the way God meant it to be? That logic doesn’t hold water.

    No one is forcing the Catholic Church to be in the business of health But then you are forcing a private Catholic hospital to perform a procedure that goes against Catholic teachings.care. If they are open for business in the state of California they are bound by the laws of the state.

    If I own a restaurant and I’m a white power guy. I see all black people as one step above a primate, and I don’t want them in my restaurant. Should I have the right to exclude them from my restaurant based on my own personal dogma?

  5. Scott Kirwin:

    Marti
    First I’m an atheist, but I’m also an ex-Catholic. I personally don’t hold this position. I was merely pointing out a possible Catholic rebuttal.

    Catholic hospitals cannot be forced to perform abortions, nor are Jewish doctors forced to work on shabbos. So the issue is a bit greyer than your example.

  6. Sophia:

    “Catholic hospitals cannot be forced to perform abortions, nor are Jewish doctors forced to work on shabbos. So the issue is a bit greyer than your example.”

    Not performing abortions is not discrimination because Catholic hospitals don’t offer abortions to anyone. It doesn’t become discrimination until they offer abortions to some but not to others.

    Likewise, Jewish doctors not working on the Sabbath is A-okay until they start breaking the sabbath for clients they consider “deserving” but not those they consider “undeserving”. Under current Jewish law, though, it doesn’t matter who the client is when it comes to breaking the Sabbath—all that matters is if there is a life-threatening emergency.

    In the case at hand here—it would be perfectly A-okay if the Catholic hospital decided not to offer breast augmentation to anyone, period. What is not okay is that they offer it to non-transsexual women, but not to transsexual women.

    As for the matter of whether Ms. Hasting’s legal status is male or female—and whether or not transsexuals are a protected class—I must quote the Unruh Act’s home-page:
    http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/publications/publications.aspx?showPub=36
    <>

  7. Sophia:

    Oops——the quote I made from the Unruh Act’s home-page got accidentally deleted from my post, so here it is:

    While the Unruh Civil Rights Act specifically lists “sex, race, color, religion,
    ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition” as protected
    classes, the California Supreme Court has held that protections under the
    Unruh Act are not necessarily restricted to these characteristics.

    The Act is meant to cover all arbitrary and intentional discrimination by a
    business establishment on the basis of personal characteristics similar to
    those listed above.

  8. Scott Kirwin:

    Sophia
    The Catholic Church does not recognize Hastings as a woman. It views her as a man. Therefore to allow the performance of the procedure on its premises goes against church doctrine.

    I do not deny that Unruh may protect Hastings (the “personal characteristics” statement is intentionally vague, no doubt to give judges/mediators leeway); however this result would have the State of California dictating Church doctrine – thereby making it a clear violation of religious freedom as set forth in the (federal) Constitution.

    Which is why I see this case going to the Supreme Court and being settled not on the issue of transgender rights but on the constitutionality of Unruh.

  9. Ron Coleman:

    You see, here we are all dicing and slicing what we think the appropriate application of this hospital’s religious doctrines are. This is the classic “entanglement” problem of First Amendment jurisprudence. Scott gave the Shabbos example, and Sophia wrote, “Likewise, Jewish doctors not working on the Sabbath is A-okay until they start breaking the sabbath for clients they consider ‘deserving’ but not those they consider ‘undeserving.’ Under current Jewish law, though, it doesn’t matter who the client is when it comes to breaking the Sabbath — all that matters is if there is a life-threatening emergency.” Well… maybe. It’s actually potentially more complicated than that.

    If the hospital takes no government money, it looks like this law is probably unconstitutional. The odds of a court ever ruling that way, and the ruling sticking, in California / the Ninth Circuit? Not too likely, I think!

  10. Scott Kirwin:

    The odds of a court ever ruling that way, and the ruling sticking, in California / the Ninth Circuit? Not too likely, I think!

    Agreed. California does tend to act like a separate country at times.

    If Hastings had no choice in the matter I would be much more supportive of her. However I think this case isn’t about transgender rights; it’s about church-state separation, and splitting hairs… Consequently I would hope that some kind of compromise could be made.

  11. Sophia:

    People – if Charlene Hastings were a regular woman (not transsexual) but happened to be African-American – and she was denied surgery because of a hospital policy restricting that procedure to white people—then I seriously doubt any of you would even care whether or not the hospital receives government funding.

    And if the owner of the hospital just-so-happened to be a church – and that church just-so-happened to have a doctrine against giving a black woman breast-enhancement surgery—I still doubt that they’d get too much sympathy from most of you.

    So—- I challenge you all to either (a) contradict me and tell me that you would feel just the same if the discrimination were against blacks rather than transsexuals or (b) explain to me why transsexuals are in your opinion different.

    What’s my point? My point is that if the Unruh act does not get upheld – bias against transsexuals is almost certainly a part of the reason why.

  12. Scott Kirwin:

    Sophia
    Don’t assume what we “people” think or don’t think. For one thing I support gay marriage, adoption, and don’t support bias against transsexuals.

    However I also don’t support the state meddling in the affairs of the Church – and the Church meddling in the affairs of state for that matter. Separation goes both ways.

    Of course there are limits to this separation. For example, the courts have intervened in cases where Jehovah Witnesses have refused medical treatment for their children. And there are some religious procedures such as female circumcision and honor killings which are banned by law – even when called for in one’s religion.

    But your examples are still off the mark. People are born with their race; Hastings was not born a woman. Hastings believes he was born a man by mistake, and this surgery correct that error. The Catholic Church believes we are born the way God intended and no error was made. While this may not be an important point for you, it is for the Church and is a fundamental reason why the performance of the surgery is immoral in its eyes. Worse, homosexuality is considered an sin, and to help Hastings with homosexuality (he is still a man according to the Church) would be a sin itself.

    I would have a problem with this case if Hastings’ procedure was to save her from a life-threatening illness, or there were no other institutions where the procedure could be performed. But given the fact that she has plenty of choices in California to get a surgery which does not save her life, I have to consider the other side. Would deciding for Hastings do greater harm to the Catholic Hospital than the harm caused to Hastings being denied? And the answer is that in this case I think that the hospital suffers more. As an atheist and libertarian I take issue with that intereference.

  13. Sophia:

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “But your examples are still off the mark. People are born with their race”

    Actually, transsexuals are born transsexual. There is an enormous amount of evidence that being transsexual (and for that matter, being gay) is not a matter of choice.

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “I would have a problem with this case if Hastings’ procedure was to save her from a life-threatening illness”

    Then in that case, it may interest to know you that there is a very high suicide rate among transsexuals who do not receive treatment. Not to mention other stress-related illnesses (such as heart attacks) also claim the lives of transsexuals who do not receive treatment.

  14. Scott Kirwin:

    You are conflating gender with sex. Hastings was born with the body of a man. He has chosen to alter that body to approximate that of a woman. It is an approximation because biologically his body is made up of cells having the sex chromosomes ‘XY’, nor can the body maintain the approximation without artificial means (hormone treatments).

    Many women do not have breast augmentation surgery, and some may suffer as a result. However “Freedom from Suffering” is not a constitutional right.

    He may believe that he is a woman trapped in the body of a man – and I myself may share that belief – but the Church does not. He may suffer because the Church doesn’t recognize his gender, but that is something that he chooses to do.

    There are plenty of hospitals and clinics willing to provide him with the cosmetic surgery he wants. He can end his suffering tomorrow if he so desired; instead he chooses to subject himself to a lawsuit – one of the most stressful endeavors in our society.

    There are legitimate grievances in our society and in the world at large. Check out my recent posts on the violence in Kenya and the efforts to free Aung San Suu Kyii in Burma. However Hastings is choosing to do this – probably for the notoriety and becoming a Rosa Parks for the transgender movement.

    This isn’t the right case for that.

  15. Sophia:

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “You are conflating gender with sex.”

    No I am not. Rather, the article you are pointing to fails to recognize the well-established existence of gender-identity. It makes a (very common) mistake of referring to “gender-role” simply as “gender”, and leaving gender-identity (which is just as immutably inborn as the chromosomes) out of the analysis altogether.

    The article has other erroneous points – but the one I just mentioned is the most blatant.

    You, on the other hand, are conflating a church and it’s ministries with a business that just so-happens to be affiliated with a church.

    And in this case, it is a business which is discriminating in a manner that just so happens to be illegal in California. The law is the law – and this law applies to all businesses in the state of California.

    Furthermore, there is a very simple way that the hospital can comply both with the Unruh act and with Catholic doctrine. All they need to do is not offer breast-enhancement at all! I mean, is there anything in Catholic doctrine that requires them to offer breast-enhancement in the first place? I mean – God made those women small-chested.

  16. Scott Kirwin:

    well-established existence of gender-identity.

    First, show me where this is recognized by law. Second, show me where the Catholic Church recognizes this. The Catholic Church does not recognize Hastings as a woman for religious reasons. While it may be hard for non-religious types to understand these reasons (the purpose of the link to the article above) they are well-grounded in the religion and as a result must be respected.

    illegal in California.

    But this infringes on the hospital’s federal first amendment rights to exercise religion freely. In such cases Federal law trumps state – which means that should this matter go to the Supreme Court Unruh stands a good chance of being thrown out.

    And your last paragraph shows that you still don’t understand – or respect – the fact that to offer the surgery to ALL forces the hospital to break Church doctrine – to in effect ‘sin’ in the eyes of the Church. This is not a simple solution at all. Forcing an institution and the members of that institution to actively break their religious laws strikes me as rather imperious, and sets a dangerous precedent whereby the State determines theology.

  17. Dean's World:

    Transgender Woman Suing Catholic Hospital

    I’m having a very spirited discussion on this topic at The Razor. Your comments are welcome.

  18. Sandi:

    Legal gender status varies state to state, but there should be no legal problems as far as gender in California.

    http://www.thetransitionalmale.com/NameChangeBC.html#5

    CALIFORNIA

    California will change both name and sex, and will issue a new birth certificate rather than amend the old one.
    California Health and Safety Code, Section 103425-103445, states: “A petition for the issuance of a new birth certificate in those cases shall be filed with the superior court of the county where the petitioner resides.”
    Documents needed:
    An original letter from your SRS surgeon
    An original or certified copy of the court order for your name change.
    If you do not have a court order for your name change, you may petition the court for change of name at the same time you petition for the new birth certificate.
    Fees are determined by the superior court of the county receiving the petition.

    Michael Rodrian
    State Registrar and Chief
    Center for Health Statistics
    mrodrian@dhs.ca.gov

  19. Sophia:

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “First, show me where this is recognized by law”

    It is recognized by the healthcare community. Therefore, the law has only the two options of either (a) following suit and recognizing it as well or (b) adhering to a “flat-Earth” mode of interpretation.

    Do you wish to be governed by “flat-Earth” laws? I sure don’t.

  20. Scott Kirwin:

    Do you wish to be governed by “flat-Earth” laws? I sure don’t.

    Of course not. However I don’t have to be.

    If I were a transexual the last place I would want to patronize would be an institution that doesn’t recognize me for what I am. Instead of fighting that institution, one that in the recent past seemed quite comfortable shifting pedophile priests from one parish to another, I would leave it alone and have the surgery in a more supportive environment.

    However if I were the head of the hospital, I would not allow the surgery to be performed at my institution; I would not force my employees to perform a procedure which goes against their religious beliefs – even at the risk of breaking state law – and would take the matter to the federal courts.

    The best solution for Unruh would be if Hastings dropped her suit. I also suspect that it would be the best thing for her well-being, speaking as someone who has been party to lawsuits in the past. If the matter reaches the Supreme Court, my amateur legal opinion is that Unruh is toast.

  21. Sandi:

    Well I think Hastings has the law on her side as far as her gender. However the Unruh Civil Rights Act looks like shaky ground that could go either way.

    I agree with Scott though that it is dumb to have surgery where your sure to run against religion considerations. Breast augmentation is a fairly common procedure, and there should be plenty of places that would be happy to oblige Ms Hastings.

  22. Dishman:

    As I understand it, Seton believes that Hastings is male.

    I disagree, but it’s not my place to tell them what to believe. They’re welcome to affix their head to whatever portion of their anatomy works for them.

    It appears to me that the purpose of this suit is to force a Catholic institution to acknowledge Hastings as female. That comes dangerously close to compelling belief.

    I find that troubling.

  23. Naftali:

    Well, it looks to me that the law as stated precludes this discrimination. Maybe they should just stop doing augmentations altogether. If the sick individual’s desired service is identical in procedure to that same service as performed on woman, then how would the hospital justify discriminating against him, other than with reference to his ‘gender’ status.

    Maybe the hospital can start to do the procedure in such a way as to require a specific alteration to be adapted to similarly sick individuals. Then they could simply refuse to provide anyone with the altered service.

    I also don’t yet understand how any laws at all can accommodate a wide interpretation of the freedom of worship clause. I assume the right has somehow been qualified, but I don’t know how.

  24. Scott Kirwin:

    Maybe they should just stop doing augmentations altogether.

    That would be the cheapest way for the hospital to avoid the problem. That’s not what Hastings wants however. I believe s/he wants to be a martyr – a Rosa Parks for transsexuals hoping to force the Catholic hospital to recognize their status.

    It won’t happen. Religions are the most conservative institutions on the planet. They don’t change very easily.

  25. Chad:

    God doesn’t make mistakes? How about downs kids? Did he mean to make them? Should we let children die from leukemia because that’s just the way God meant it to be? That logic doesn’t hold water.

    My that is a horrible example. So you’re promoting eugenics now. You are honestly saying that that kids with Down’s Syndrome are mistakes that need to be “corrected.” Godwin’s law be damned but that’s what a certain fascist government of 1930’s and 1940’s Germany thought. The logic does hold water if you thought at a higher level than your reptilian brain. If you’ve ever met someone with Down’s Syndrome you’d meet an actual wonderful human being that has every right to live as your sorry ass, probably more, because at least they have compassion for others.

  26. Chad:

    Speaking of fascism, that’s what this whole argument is, capitalism vs fascism. The medical merits of pro and con of transsexualism should be set aside because it is completely irrelevant.
    If California was a free society for all not just special interest groups, then this is a simple fix. The hospital, as a business, has the right to refuse service for any reason it damn well pleases. The customer has the right to go somewhere else where they will gladly perform the service. And there are plenty of businesses that will do so. The government HAS NO RIGHT TO INTERFERE.
    I have no doubt that the customer here is trying to be a martyr, enabled to do so by the state. Now, it is no longer a matter of someone wishing to get elective surgery. Instead, this has been made a political battle, since now the customer is trying to force a change of other’s deeply help belief by the force of law. Imagine the squealing that would be heard if this situation was reversed.

  27. Sophia:

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “I disagree, but it’s not my place to tell them what to believe. They’re welcome to affix their head to whatever portion of their anatomy works for them.”

    I also feel the same way. The Catholic Church has the right to believe whatever it wants to believe.

    Likewise, any biggot has the right to believe that blacks are inferior beings that should be segregated from whites. However, if he happens to own a restaurant, his right to hold these beliefs about blacks doesn’t translate into any right to discriminate against blacks by forcing black patrons to sit separately from white patrons, or by serving white customers only.

    Likewise, the Catholic Church has the right to believe that Hastings is a man and should not have breast implants. But if the Catholic Church so happens to own a hospital (as is the case here) that does not translate into a right to discriminate against transsexuals.

  28. Chad:

    Likewise, the Catholic Church has the right to believe that Hastings is a man and should not have breast implants. But if the Catholic Church so happens to own a hospital (as is the case here) that does not translate into a right to discriminate against transsexuals.

    Why doesn’t it? You make a statement without logically backing it up.
    Just because someone opens a hospital means your belief system is no longer valid? Why do you make this assertion? Let’s follow your strange logic pattern.
    I open up a sandwich shop. I sell different kinds of sandwiches. But I’m Muslim, and don’t serve ham or other pork products. According to your “logic” here, the state will come in and force me to handle ham, an unclean animal, which is against major tenets of my religion, so you can have a ham sandwich. That your rights to something that makes you feel a little better about yourself are now more important than my deeply held fundamental religious beliefs.
    Please defend that decision. This should be good.

  29. Sophia:

    Naftali wrote: “I also don’t yet understand how any laws at all can accommodate a wide interpretation of the freedom of worship clause. I assume the right has somehow been qualified, but I don’t know how.”

    Exactly! Freedom to believe what your convictions tell you to believe is important. But a nation still has to be a nation of laws—and while these laws need to respect the practices of the various religions, someone can’t be allowed to just disregard a law in a manner that has impact on someone else just because their religion says to do so. If they could, we may as well throw the law-book into the fire – because anyone can claim that anything they do is mandated under their religious beliefs.

  30. Sophia:

    Chad wrote: “Just because someone opens a hospital means your belief system is no longer valid?”

    Did I say that their belief system is no longer valid? No, I didn’t.

    I just said that they still have to obey the law – and their right to hold their religious beliefs doesn’t translate into a right to break the law.

    And laws are something that all human stable human societies have had since the dawn of time.

    As for your sandwich-shop analogy, it is not a valid for a very simple reason. In this scenario, the owner of the sandwich shop is only selling sandwiches that are in accordance with Muslim dietary guidelines. Sandwiches containing ham are not sold to anyone. There is no discrimination involved in your sandwich-shop scenario.

    An example of discrimination would be as follows. Let’s suppose I open a sandwich-shop and I sell beef sandwiches and chicken sandwiches to anyone who is willing to pay the price—however, one day someone on a wheelchair comes in and sees a ham salad in my sandwich case as well. However, I insist that I only sell ham sandwiches to able-bodied patrons, because I don’t believe that ham is good for people with physical handicaps – and it is only beef sandwiches and chicken sandwiches that I will sell to just anyone.

    That would be discrimination. I have the right not to sell ham sandwiches – and the Unruh act doesn’t stop that. All the Unruh act says is that whatever decision I make regarding the selling of ham sandwiches in my shop, I have to treat all of my patrons equally in that decision. That is, I must make it available either to all of them or to none of them.

  31. Dishman:

    Ok, here are some different hypotheticals…

    Let’s say I own a feed store, and someone I don’t feel comfortable with, maybe a skinhead, wants to buy a ton of fertilizer. Do I have a right to refuse to sell it to him?

    Let’s say I own a flight school, and someone I don’t feel comfortable with wants to learn how to fly jets, but isn’t interested in learning how to land them. Do I have a right to refuse to teach him?

    If someone is engaging in activities I find offensive, am I compelled to assist them simply because I own a business?

  32. Dishman:

    Here’s another hypothetical…

    Let’s say you’re a ticket agent in Portland, Maine, and something about the guys with two first class one-way tickets to Los Angeles sends chills through you and makes your stomach churn. Are you compelled to do business with them?

    Legally, the answer is yes.

    Did I say hypothetical? My bad.

  33. Sophia:

    Ah – the smell of knee-jerk post-911 fear-politics. :) Used to justify things from Illegal Wiretappings to Torture to Aggressive War. Now, I see you are adding the dismantling of anti-discrimination laws to that list?

    911 could have been stopped if the respective agencies had acted on intelligence they had. It is not an excuse for allowing discrimination based on arbitrary personal characteristics. You can’t predict who is and is not a terrorist based on arbitrary personal characteristics. Not only is it morally wrong – it is also ineffective.

    This is my response to your insinuation that events like Oklahoma City and 911 are reasons for opposing anti-discrimination laws.

  34. Chad:

    Sophia – you’re hiding behind the law that is being argued against. You’re simply saying follow the law no matter if it is a bad law, while everyone else is saying, its a bad law. Fine.
    The California state assembly passes a law that all sandwich shops must sell ham sandwiches. According to you, this Muslim shopkeeper must now follow the law, even if it breaks his personal beliefs.
    My argument is: the government has no business passing a law like this in the first place.
    Let’s try another analogy: A woman walks into the shop of a male Muslim masseuse (if there is such a thing?) and demands under equal opportunity laws or whatever, that he service her requirements. He refuses because he cannot touch another woman that is not his wife.

    Do you get it yet? This entire class of laws that try to micromanage people is an abomination against freedom. But you seem perfectly fine as long as the side that benefits is your own. What if a law was passed that all gay men were to be castrated? Would you follow the law then?

  35. Dishman:

    911 could have been stopped if the respective agencies had acted on intelligence they had.

    You want me to trust the government?

    I can only assume you’ve never worked for the government. At its best, government is a bungling bureaucracy.

  36. Elisha Feger:

    Shouldn’t this be titled “Man sues Catholic Hospital for Tits”?

  37. Sophia:

    Chad wrote: “Sophia – you’re hiding behind the law that is being argued against. You’re simply saying follow the law no matter if it is a bad law, while everyone else is saying, its a bad law. Fine”

    No – that’s not what I am doing. I am simply one by one explaining why the reasons that you guys say it is a bad law are not valid reasons.

    Now I will respond to your latest invalid analogy:

    Chad wrote: “The California state assembly passes a law that all sandwich shops must sell ham sandwiches. According to you, this Muslim shopkeeper must now follow the law, even if it breaks his personal beliefs.”

    Well, the simple fact is—there would be no need for this kind of law. A general refusal to provide a certain kind of service is (in most cases) something the market can deal with. Discrimination, on the other hand, has a way of short-circuiting the ability of the market to take care of things.

    Allow me to explain. If the Muslim sandwich-man won’t sell ham sandwiches at all—then a guy across the street can go into business marketing to the ham-sandwich lovers that the Muslim shopkeeper does not wish to serve.

    However, if I open a sandwich-shop and decide that ham sandwiches can only be sold to able-bodied clients, the same will not be true. If you are thinking of going into business catering to those I won’t serve, you will most likely do the standard going-into-business calculations. You will know that most people who want ham sandwiches can already get them from my sandwich shop – and will probably continue to do so. Therefore, it is less likely that you will see this business venture as a good risk. The one or two physically-handicapped people who want ham sandwiches won’t be enough to support your business – and it’s unlikely that enough of the able-bodied people who are used to getting their ham-sandwiches for me will jump ship to you to make your business viable.

    So what options does this leave the physically-handicapped person? The person can (a) travel to another part of town to get the ham sandwich (a time imposition that nobody else would have to deal with and this person shouldn’t have to either). The person can (b) make their own ham-sandwich – which will probably result in an amateurish sandwich, not of deli quality. Or the person can© hire someone to bring the sandwich from another part of town (which would make the sandwich very expensive). All of these are extreme impositions on the person who’s only misdeed was having a physical handicap.

    My point is that—anti-discrimination laws do not constitute micromanagement. The Muslim deli-keeper is still free to decide whether or not he wants to sell ham sandwiches at all. The only thing he’s not allowed to do is to short-circuit the market system by offering services to those he deems “worthy” of a ham-sandwich but not those that he deems “unworthy”.

  38. Sophia:

    Chad wrote: “What if a law was passed that all gay men were to be castrated? Would you follow the law then?”

    That law is not only discriminatory, but persecutive. It would be an unjust law that should be opposed on every level.

    How you make any co-relation between such a barbarous law of sadism toward a specific minority and a simple anti-discrimination law is completely completely beyond me.

  39. Scott Kirwin:

    Sophia
    You argue your position well. Thanks for doing it here.

  40. Sophia:

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “You argue your position well. Thanks for doing it here.”

    Why, thank you very much. :)

  41. Dishman:

    I do not like compelling people to undertake action. That offends me deeply.

    Sophia, you’ve said someone has a choice of whether or not to go into a particular business, and if they choose to go into business, they accept compliance with anti-discrimination laws.

    Now it becomes personal for me.

    As best I can tell, I am not neurologically equipped to comply with anti-discrimination laws. I can (and would) pay others to comply, but my personal conduct is not compatible. I am not unique in this, though far from common. This is not something I have a choice in, either.

    Am I, then, just out of luck?

  42. Scott Kirwin:

    I’ve gone over this issue for several days now and I can’t think of any similar situation. It’s clear to me that the Catholic hospital is in violation of Unruh – however I question the law’s constitutionality since it seems to infringe on federal law. Whether the 9th Circuit agrees, and the Supreme Court takes it up is questionable. In fact due to the limits of this case I would be surprised if SCOTUS would take it up should it reach them.

    For those who disagree with Hastings, the solution would be to get California’s gender-change law overturned. That would prevent Hastings from being legally considered as a woman, and allow the hospital to refuse procedures on transsexuals. Pushing similar issues such as same-sex marriage have often backfired with opponents pushing alternate legislations, for example codifying marriage as being between a man and a woman.

    Hastings’ case may end up doing more harm to transgendered rights than good.

  43. Sophia:

    Scott Kirwin wrote:

    “For those who disagree with Hastings, the solution would be to get California’s gender-change law overturned. That would prevent Hastings from being legally considered as a woman, and allow the hospital to refuse procedures on transsexuals. Pushing similar issues such as same-sex marriage have often backfired with opponents pushing alternate legislations, for example codifying marriage as being between a man and a woman.—Hastings’ case may end up doing more harm to transgendered rights than good.”

    You have some valid points here. Up till this point in the discussion, the only thing I was considering was whether or not the truest justice is on Hasting’s side. But the point you have raised forces me to consider strategic issues as well.

    Ultimately, something will need to be done eventually. The rights of African-Americans would not be as well as they are today if Rosa Parks and the NAACP had decided to do nothing at fear of galvanizing racist groups. However, it would also have been worse-off if the NAACP had rushed in head-first without thinking about strategy.

    Rosa Parks’s actions were not spontaneous. Not long before her arrest, another African-American woman had done a similar thing – more spontaneously—but the NAACP realized she would not be the ideal poster child. Therefore, Rosa Parks volunteered to be arrested so that a better poster-child of the movement can be found.

    Maybe what Hastings should do is get together with trans-advocacy groups and determine whether or not she is the ideal poster-child. If she isn’t, perhapse she should drop the case, and someone who would make a better poster-child should apply at Seton for breast-augmentation surgery.

  44. Scott Kirwin:

    Sophia
    If Hastings’ issue is transgender rights then there are better targets than the Catholic Church. If his/her problem is with the Catholic Church, there are better issues than transgender rights to club it like a harp seal with (the Church still has some explaining to do regarding priestly conduct IMO). But mixing the two won’t do much. At the very least it will force Catholic hospitals in California to stop breast augmentation procedures – which will only result in lost revenue and possible resentment from “real” women who can’t get certain procedures done where they want them. Personally I hate the procedure.

    If his/her issue is to get the Catholic Church to recognize the status of people like him/her, then forget it. The Church can’t accept homosexuals, so I’m sure generations will pass before it accepts Hastings.

    Gay/TG rights aren’t my thing: I’m into basic human rights (read my posts on Burma and Kenya). Given the state of gay rights in the developing world, I’d like to see more interest by the American gay community in the rights of those in places like Iran – where “gays don’t exist” according to Pres Amahdinajad – because they hang them. In places like Turkey and Egypt gays are tortured and raped by the police, and have fewer “rights” than even the most redneck counties in the USA.

    Picking a fight with the Catholic Church over plastic surgery strikes me as annoying and a waste of resources. It makes gay/TG advocates look extreme and selfish – particularly to those of us straights who support their cause even though we don’t fly rainbow flags or march in parades.

  45. Sophia:

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “At the very least it will force Catholic hospitals in California to stop breast augmentation procedures – which will only result in lost revenue and possible resentment from ‘real’ women who can’t get certain procedures done where they want them. ”

    Actually, as I illustrated in the ham sandwich analogies, an unfulfilled niche only occurs when a provider singles out an arbitrary part of the market to deny a service to. However, if a provider ceases to provide a specific service altogether, that is something the market forces generally can compensate for.

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “Gay/TG rights aren’t my thing: I’m into basic human rights”

    GBLT rights are all about extending basic human rights for GBLT people.

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “Given the state of gay rights in the developing world, I’d like to see more interest by the American gay community in the rights of those in places”

    As one friend of mine pointed out, there are also a lot more starving people in those parts of the world than there are here. Does that mean that we should send all of our money to feed starving people overseas and not leave a dime to feed starving people here? No. We still need to spend some of our money feeding starving people here, because starving people here are still starving people.

    Besides, as the same friend pointed out, we’re not really going to be able to change GBLT rights abroad if we don’t change things here. The US will not take a solid stand on GBLT issues there until people seriously realize that that’s a problem – and that will mean changing attitudes toward GBLT people here.

    Dishman wrote: “As best I can tell, I am not neurologically equipped to comply with anti-discrimination laws. I can (and would) pay others to comply, but my personal conduct is not compatible. I am not unique in this, though far from common. This is not something I have a choice in, either.”

    Once again – how can this argument apply to anti-discrimination laws without being equally applicable to any other kind of law?

  46. Scott Kirwin:

    Sophia
    Having lived among starving people in Africa, I’d like to think I know a thing or two on that subject. Your friend’s analogy about starving people here vs. there is a bit misleading. The people I lived among, employed and provided health care for lived on a dollar a day. They lived in thatched dwellings and getting them clean water was a challenge – as well as protecting them from malaria. These people were actually the lucky ones; there were people in the area that were even in worse condition.

    I have not seen anything approaching that level of poverty anywhere within the USA. Nor would I expect to given welfare programs. That does not mean that people here don’t need help: they do. However the poor in America aren’t the same as the poor in sub-saharan Africa.

    GBLT people in the USA are akin to the American poor. There are obvious problems and areas of discrimination here that need to be addressed. However placing Hastings’ problem obtaining a cosmetic procedure from a Catholic hospital on the same level as gay men being jailed and abused in custody in Egypt strikes me as pretty callous. It would be like telling a family in Tanzania that their children couldn’t get polio immunizations because an American family in poverty needs a flat-panel TV set.

    Another analogy would be in the 1980s people refusing to pressure the South African regime to end apartheid because America still had racial divisions that needed attending to.

    What happened to Matthew Shepherd proves that there is much to do here in America. But Charlene Hastings is no Matthew Shepherd.

  47. Sophia:

    Scott Kirwin wrote: “What happened to Matthew Shepherd proves that there is much to do here in America. But Charlene Hastings is no Matthew Shepherd.”

    That’s like saying that fighting segregation of blacks in the early 20th Century should have been put on the back burner because there were lynchings going on at the time.

    Both statements ignore the fact that when discrimination and violence are commonly perpetrated against the same group, both are usually part of the same problem.

    You are dismissive of the importance of Hastings getting the surgery on account of it being a cosmetic surgery. Getting this surgery, however, is not a matter of vanity for Hastings. It is a matter of treatment – something needed for her body to feel right.

    Furthermore, it is a surgery that Seton would not have denied her if she were cissexual (i.e. not transsexual) and therefore this is discrimination. Discrimination is an abuse – and it is part of the same problem in society as the actual violence against the same groups. Both stem from the notion that it is okay to mistreat people because they are GBLT, that such mistreatment of people for being GBLT is something that society should be tolerant to.

    If we are to effectively tackle abuses against GBLT groups abroad we need to first adopt an attitude here that mistreating people for being GBLT is not okay and not acceptable. Yes, that also includes not letting people off easily when they commit violence on transwomen – even when they claim it is “a crime of passion”. But that also means that a hospital can not be permitted to discriminate even when they can claim that it is “their religion”.

    I believe that mistreating people for being GBLT is not something society should accept. Not even when the abuse stops short of physical violence. Not just because lesser forms of abuse are still abuse – but also because both the lesser and greater forms of abuse are part of the same problem, and if one is allowed to keep going with society’s go-ahead, combatting the other will be all the more futile.

  48. ECP007:

    The Catholic Church is not discriminating because it offers breast augmentation surgery to all “women” patients. However, the Church views this patient in question as a man. It does not offer breast augmentation surgery to men, therefore there is no discrimination.

  49. DJ:

    this is to Scott the people of Africa’s great savior: if the place these people in africa choose to live in is so inhabital why don’t they move, I mean afterall it is a choice? I am catholic and I am in healthcare too, I wouldn’t deny anyone treatment. Study the catholic history, we weren’t all saints.

  50. Scott Kirwin:

    Dj
    Many would if they could but…
    1. They don’t have enough money to move.
    2. They can’t get visas. The EU and US severely restrict visas to Africans.
    As for being Africa’s great savior, the role is already taken by U2’s Bono and prior to him, Bob Geldof.

    And this topic has exactly what to do with Africa anyway?

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