A lot of people are dead in this country. In two years, more than 800,000 people have died as a result of COVID-19, and yet we still have folks declaring it their God given right to get Covid and spread it to as many people as they want to.
If we were to have a moment of silence for each of these 800,000 people, one minute of silence for each person would last for over 555 days. That’s a year and a half of silence.
But there’s no chance of such silence as it will inevitably be broken by someone screaming about being asked to wear a mask at their kid’s middle school band concert, or on an airplane, or while visiting a sick person in the hospital. It’s truly staggering how politicized what is a very straightforward public health issue has become. Here in Michigan, hospitals are overwhelmed, a very shitty Christmas present to the “Healthcare Heroes” we were all hailing a year or two ago. Now they’re being assaulted at work over Covid restrictions by patients and their families.
We have Republican elected officials who have compared mask wearing to the Holocaust. Trump’s acolytes booing him when he says he got a Covid booster (because OF COURSE HE DID. He doesn’t want to die. But he’s been pushing vaccine and Covid disinfo because he DGAF if you do). And whatever the hell this is.
Thankfully the Supreme Court will step in and save us from ourselves, right? Ha. No. Not with the conservative majority currently in place.
First the good news: New York has a vaccine mandate for health care workers.
And the bad news: A group of health care workers sued because the mandate doesn’t have a religious exemption.
More good news: The Supreme Court told them to get poked.
And more bad news: Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented, meaning they would rather have the court side with the folks suing New York. This isn’t a surprise, as these are three especially conservative justices. But Gorsuch cited the Supreme Court ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in his dissent.
Gorsuch’s argument was basically that if it’s okay for cake bakers to turn away LGBTQ+ people due to their deeply held religious beliefs that LGBTQ+ people are garbage, then health care workers should have the right to refuse the vaccine due to their deeply held beliefs that their patients are garbage? That science is garbage? That government is garbage? That vaccines are witchcraft? All of the above?
Gorsuch writes that “the government must demonstrate that its law is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.” He says they’ve failed to do so. Apparently, preventing people from dying is not “a compelling state interest.” Says a guy who claims to be pro-life.
Why does this matter? Because it’s an indication that Gorsuch is predisposed to ruling in favor of so-called “religious freedom,” whether it makes sense or not. As we all know, this religious freedom claim is used over and over again by people who don’t think they need to treat LGBTQ+ people as fully human. And while it’s not a surprise that Gorsuch would be into that kind of thing, it’s a bummer to have confirmation of such fears.
And when I say “so-called religious beliefs,” I’m not saying that religious beliefs that are sincerely held don’t exist. I’m saying that religious beliefs seem to get awfully strong when they support what people already want to do, such as telling gay customers to get lost or refusing a life-saving vaccine that benefits society at large.
On Twitter, political commentator Lindy Li called bullshit on Gorsuch’s claim that making people get vaccines came out of a “fear and anger at those who harbor unpopular religious beliefs.”
“Those transparently insincere beliefs aren’t religious,” Li writes. “They’re the ravings of an ignorant deluded base fed lies by the people who put Gorsuch in power.”
But even the rantings of braindead MAGAites are gospel when those rantings promote the conservative agenda Gorsuch wants to push. And it’s garbage.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.