WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court handed down two rulings this morning that are of importance to the Pagan community. The first was a 6-3 ruling in the landmark civil rights case that protects LGBT people from discrimination.
Title VII, a key provision of the Civil Rights Act (1964), prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex, which the Supreme court ruled includes bias against LGBT workers after examining three cases.
Two of the cases at the center of the decision involved gay men, Gerald Bostock who worked for a decade as a child welfare advocate in Clayton County, Georgia, and Donald Zarda worked as a skydiving instructor for Altitude Express in New York. Both men had been fired from their positions after it became known they were gay.
The third case involved Aimee Stephens who was employed by G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes in Garden City, Michigan. Stephens when first hired, presented as male, but within two years of her hiring and “seeking treatment for despair and loneliness,” was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and it was recommended that she begin living as a woman. In her sixth year of employment, she sent a letter to her employer explaining her decision to “live and work full-time as a woman” and was terminated by the funeral home in a response that included, “this is not going to work out.”
Both Zarda and Stephens have died since their cases were filed, but their estates continued their fights on behalf of their heirs.
From the court opinion, delivered by Justice Gorsuch:
From the ordinary public meaning of the statute’s language at the time of the law’s adoption, a straightforward rule emerges: An employer violates Title VII when it intentionally fires an individual employee based in part on sex.
It doesn’t matter if other factors besides the plaintiff ’s sex contributed to the decision. And it doesn’t matter if the employer treated women as a group the same when compared to men as a group. If the employer intentionally relies in part on an individual employee’s sex when deciding to discharge the employee—put differently, if changing the employee’s sex would have yielded a different choice by the employer—a statutory violation has occurred. Title VII’s message is “simple but momentous”: An individual employee’s sex is “not relevant to the selection, evaluation, or compensation of employees.” [Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U. S. 228, 239 (1989)]
The statute’s message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.
The second court ruling concerned two cases, United States Forest Service V. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, and pertained to the construction of a proposed 604-mile natural gas pipeline by Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC. 16 miles of the proposed pipeline route falls within the boundaries of the George Washington National Forest and 0.1 mile is within 600 feet of the Appalachian Trail.
The case centered on whether special use permit obtained from the United States Forest Service for the right-of-way of the pipeline under the Appalachian Trail violated the Mineral Leasing Act, and whether the Forest Service had the right to transfer authority over National Park property which prohibits pipeline right-of-way through the National Park System.
The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Forest Service determining that Forest Service did, in fact, have the authority to issue the special use permit under the decision of the Department of the Interior to assign the responsibility of the Appalachian Trail to the National Park System and that pipeline would not transform the land which the trail passes over within the National Park.
This ruling means the pipeline will likely be able to move forward with plans for construction, though there are other possible legal actions of environmental concerns brought before the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which Justice Sotomayor mentions in her dissenting opinion.
TWH will continue to follow the legal proceedings and filings connected to the proposed pipeline and report on any new developments.
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TWH – The Summer Solstice is this weekend and with pandemic restrictions still in effect in many places, more celebrations have shifted to online. In the U.K., communal prayer is still prohibited until at least July 4th.
Pagan Spirit Gathering is happening all week long with a variety of events taking place every day online, as well as their Solstice Ritual.
Among the many groups hosting online events via Facebook are Connect DC’s online celebration on June 21 at 12 pm, Hearth and Grove Fellowship’s Virtual Litha June 21 at 11 am, and NEOhio Spirit of the Earth’s Litha/Midsummer 2020 on June 20 at 5 pm.
English Heritage will begin broadcasting from Stonehenge 30 minutes prior to sunset on June 20th 20:26 GMT (4:26 EDT) and include sunrise on June 21 since the site is still closed to visitors during due to the pandemic. Glastonbury is also hosting a live sunrise event on June 21 at 3:30 am GMT (June 20, 11:30 pm EDT).
Naturally, there are plenty of other groups and sites around the world that will be streaming online, whether it is an actual ritual or just the views from historic sites that Pagans resonate with. A quick internet or social media platform search may yield enough results that deciding which ones to pick could offer a challenge.
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In other news:
- Friday is Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, and Jubilee Day, and marks the date in Galveston, Texas in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived and informed the citizens that the was had ended in 1863, and read the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all previously enslaved people and releasing those still held as slaves by the Confederacy. A Facebook event is calling for a mass exodus from the social media platform as a protest again CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to issue stricter policies on posts deemed as racially incendiary and that proliferate misinformation. The event suggests deactivating profiles. deleting the app, or just allowing accounts to be dormant that day.
- Featured in a Life in Norway article, Dark Tourism was the Steilneset Memorial which honors all the victims of Vardø “witch” trials in 1621. “witch” trials were held throughout various parts of Norway from 1551 to 1760, with 730 people were charged with being “witches” and 280 of those accused were executed. In Vardø, 91 people were executed out of the 131 people who were brought to trial. Queen Sonia opened the memorial in 2011 which features a 400-foot-long corridor that displays the names and stories of the accused and a glass room that features an eternal flame that burns on the seat of a steel chair designed by Louise Bourgeois.
- Fire Lyte the host of the podcast, Inciting a Riot, aired a new episode last week, Inciting A Black Lives Matter Riot that brought together seven Black spiritual leaders and activists for a frank conversation about the recent events centered around racism, the protests, and other ways that Black Voices have been silenced, how white people can be better allies.
Azrael Arynn K of Ardantane shared a letter penned to some friends who were feeling overwhelmed by the coronavirus epidemic. They suggested we might share it with our readers.
This may not be what you want to hear, but you asked me for my big thoughts. I’ve been working with Nuit, the Egyptian goddess of the nighttime sky for the last several years–She is the primary in my Divine Array, which also includes Artemis, Persephone, Amaterasu, Brigit, Hekate…–good company, hmm?
She’s the originator of the Big View. Her purview is the Wide-Angled Lens, from the beginning of time to the far reaches of the Universe. She doesn’t let the small stuff get Her down.
Anyway, I’ve been listening to Her since this whole Covid-19 thing began. She has perhaps a viewpoint that may be a bit hard to take: this is, from Her perspective, a relatively small course correction for humanity. While this may kill a million people, it’s not on the scale of the Black Death, the smallpox epidemic introduced to the Americas by Columbus and those who followed him, or the flu in 1918.
We’ve stretched the limits of this sacred planet, Gaia, to Her limit. When rats in a cage become overcrowded, they begin to go psychotic and turn on each other, even killing each other. Humans are just bigger rats. We’re overcrowded and using up Gaia’s resources at an unsustainable rate. So She’s created a way to have us slow down (pollution in urban areas has dropped 79% since we all began to stay home) and have compassion for each other. And reevaluate our priorities. If the moron in the WH and his sycophants will just get out of the way, the world will come out of this stronger, more united… shining like the billions of stars in Nuit’s sky.
What we will need, in the short term, are psychopomps to guide the dead to the other side, at least those who need help. I’m one of those psychopomps. When I took the Ardantane Shamanic class on death and dying, I got a very strong message from the Gods that one-on-one guiding was not my path–that I’ll be helping people cross over by the thousands. This is the first time I’ll do this, but it’s not the last.
With our technologies of communication, and modern knowledge of epidemics, and modern medicine (including “simple steps” like physical distancing and hand-washing), we can come through this. Where we go after that is entirely up to you, me, and the millions of others of good will stepping up to the fore–guided by Nuit’s Big Picture of what we can be when we move forward–together.
Deep thoughts. Deep blue nighttime sky–and billions and billions of bright and shining stars.
Go outside now, and look for Her in every star. And look for the Big Picture. It’s remarkably relaxing and comforting. Now take a deep breath and be grateful for all that you have.
Azrael Arynn K
Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte
Deck: Tarot Art Nouveau by Antonella Castelli, published by Lo Scarabeo.
Card: Six (6) of Wands
Be mindful this week of how situations appear or are presented. The potential for false countenances is great and can conceal dangerous intent. Question everything and be prepared to dig beneath the surface for the truth.
Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.