I was glad to read that the Boy Scouts are expanding their good work to include transgender boys. (See Des Moines Register link below.) Private club-type of organizations, like the Boy Scouts, do have and should have the right to decide who may or who may not be members. The fundamental and peaceful right to Freedom of Association should be respected by law. Any group of people should be able to voluntarily form a club or other organization. whether boy or girl, Christian or Muslim, Republican or Democrat, etc. I’m sure this was a difficult decision for some in the organization. Many people simply do not know how to react to people who are transgendered. Everything I’ve known about the Boy Scouts leads me to believe that it is an honorable organization that teaches both practical skills and good moral values and behaviors to boys. This was the right thing for them to do.
Link to Des Moines Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/31/iowa-boy-scout-leader-transgender-boys-welcome-join/97311766/
Recent Iowa Polls have found: A majority of Iowans prefer to use the force of government to require fellow citizens to buy gasoline that has ethanol blended into it whether the buyer wants it or not. A majority of Iowans prefer to treat fellow citizens as criminals if they use drugs that are not favored by the majority, even if such use harms no other person. A majority of Iowans want to force businesses to pay a minimum wage, even though it means that the least skilled people may not be able to find work. A majority of Iowans prefer to use the force of government to prohibit vaping in privately owned businesses, even if the owners, customers and employees prefer that it be allowed. Iowa should change its motto to: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain, unless, of course, the current majority disagrees, even if you are a peaceful person and do no harm to others.
It is a proper role of government to regulate activities on public property. But, it is unfair that West Des Moines has banned both smoking and vaping in their public parks. There may be no safe level of second hand smoke or nicotine vaper, but there is also no safe level of car exhaust, or camp fire or barbecue grill fumes, but we don’t ban them. Life is not risk free. And really, isn’t it pretty easy for anyone who happens to be down wind from a smoker or vaper to avoid the situation by simply moving a little bit? Smokers and vapers pay taxes that fund public parks just like everyone else. This is simply a case of an intolerant majority oppressing an out-of-favor minority. I hope that other municipalities will not follow suit. p.s. – I don’t smoke or vape.
The Supreme Court did get it right on the gay marriage issue. The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution says, “No state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Equal protection of all citizens by government is fundamental. Government must not give favorable or unfavorable treatment in the same circumstances to any individual or group. The right of two people to voluntarily marry is a fundamental right, even if it is not stated in the Constitution. Remember the ninth amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This ruling does not require any person or church to conduct or participate in a wedding between gay people. It only requires that state governments not discriminate between heterosexual and homosexual weddings and marriages. There was a time when our Constitution was interpreted to not protect marriage between people of different races. The current situation is very similar. Even if a majority of people think that gay marriage is wrong, peaceful and honest people who do no harm to others should be free to voluntarily enter into marriage and government should not discriminate against them whether or not they happen to be of the same sex.
The Des Moines Register recently reported that the University of Iowa (UI) has decided to implement a policy next Fall to prohibit all forms of tobacco anywhere on its campus. (See link below to Register article.) UI already has a policy that prohibits all smoking on campus. The new policy would extend the ban to all forms of nicotine, including vapor and chewing tobacco. The new policy will apply to students, faculty, staff and visitors. It covers all university buildings and vehicles, plus all outdoor areas controlled by UI. UI is a government institution, and it is proper for governments to prohibit smoking inside or near entrances to government owned buildings because of the risks associated with second hand smoke. For the same reason, it also seems proper to prohibit nicotine vapor inside government buildings. But, smoking outside should not be prohibited. Our air is not and has never been perfectly pure. I would guess that automobiles, forest fires, power plants and volcanoes each put much more harmful pollution into our outdoor air than tobacco smokers. Even worse, prohibiting smokeless (chewing) tobacco is just mean spirited. It is not the proper role for government to prohibit us from legal activities that clearly harm no one other than ourselves. Living involves risks. As a person who does not use tobacco in any form, I have decided to not take those risks. But people who do no harm to others should be free to decide what risks they take with their lives, and neither I, nor any majority, should be able to force our decisions upon them.
Link to article: http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/local/2015/04/07/university-iowa-go-tobacco-free/25420109/
The Register still has it wrong. (“Churches cross line with political endorsements”, 4/9/2015 – see link below.) Churches with ministers who advocate for specific candidates should be allowed to be tax exempt. But donors who contribute to them should not get a charitable tax deduction.
There are two types of tax-exempt organizations. First, there are the Charitable, Religious and Educational organizations, (tax code 501c3 organizations), that pay no income taxes, (and often don’t pay other taxes), plus donors get a charitable tax deduction on their income taxes for the amount of their contribution. Second, there are all other tax-exempt organizations that pay no income taxes, (and often don’t pay other taxes), but donors do NOT get a charitable deduction. They are properly classified as tax exempt, since they are organized to not make any kind of profit, but their activities are not charitable, so no charitable tax deduction is given.
There are many tax exempt organizations that do not make any profit, but that are not charitable and whose donors don’t get a tax deduction. They include Rotary clubs, political parties, country clubs, political issue organizations, chambers of commerce, special interest clubs, etc. None of them try to make any profit, but they are not charitable.
To the extent that any not-for-profit organization advocates for or against specific candidates, that organization is not doing charitable work. It is doing political work. Under the principle of equal treatment under the law, donors to churches that advocate for specific candidates should not get a charitable tax deduction. If a church wants its donors to receive a charitable tax deduction for contributions made, then the minister should not advocate for candidates from the pulpit, or through any other communication from the church.
Link to Register editorial: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/caucus/2015/04/08/rgisters-editorial-churches-cross-line-political-endorsements/25500433/