Victory Ahead; Shadows Loom

Matt Welch writes at the libertarian magazine/website reason.com:

Gay people and gay rights activists should be among the first to recognize the critical link between open-mindedness and ending discrimination. It’s difficult to fathom in this historic year of 2015, when the Supreme Court may be on the verge of legalizing gay marriage nationwide, but gay rights advocates were almost hopelessly outnumbered in living memory. For decades, just about the only glimmer of hope came not from courtrooms but in the arena of public debate. …

But as the longtime minority view [on gay marriage] tips into what is looking like a permanent majority . . . Too many activists are now emboldened by their newfound political power to compel obedience and hound heretics rather than continue their incredibly successful long-term efforts at persuasion.

Driving the Kleins [owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery] into bankruptcy seems an odd tactic for changing their minds. Unless the goal is no longer about opening hearts, but rather enforcing new social norms by making examples out of nonconformers. …

But openness is also a condition of mind and a habit of discourse. Abandoning it in the face of victory will create as yet unimagined self-inflicted defeats. If we want to keep “open-minded” as a compliment, we need to make sure we don’t replace one set of intolerant laws with another. And we had better nurture a culture that appreciates the opportunity to debate, rather than driving disfavored opinion into the closet.

This blogsite pays so much attention to the issue of government action/lawsuits/mob threats against small businesses that don’t wish to provide services to same-sex weddings, based on the owner’s traditional religious beliefs, because it may be a bellwether of the next great civil rights struggle in our country—the right to dissent from the majoritarian view of the progressive state, and the corresponding right to be left alone and not to be coerced, by threat of punishment, into activity that violates religious conscience.

The magazine Welch now edits, he points out, “was editorializing in favor of gay marriage as early as 1974,” so this is not an issue of gay rights opponents suddenly discovering liberal (in the traditional sense) values. It is, instead, a matter of being consistent in defense of classical liberal values.

As the Cato Institute’s David Boaz tells The Federalist:

… mainstream libertarians have been generally supportive of gay marriage and the right of private individuals not to be required to participate in ceremonies that offend them. Cato has filed amicus briefs in gay marriage cases, also filed an amicus brief in the Elaine photography case out in New Mexico, and also in the Hobby Lobby case. I don’t know if there’s been a case in Indiana that would be relevant. People at Cato have defended the right of private individuals—and even reasonable large businesses like Hobby Lobby—to not support policies or participate in ceremonies that are offensive to them. It seems to me that libertarians have defended liberty on both sides on those particular issues.

More. We’ve seen it all before: Pagans persecute Christians, then Christians gain control over the state and persecute pagans; Catholics persecute Protestants, then Protestants gain control and persecute Catholics; the old guard persecutes the revolutionaries, then the revolutionaries gain control and persecute the old guard. When will they ever learn?

Marriage Amendment Is Wrong, Defending Religious Freedom Isn’t

In the wake of the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on same-sex marriage, Gov. Scott Walker, who seemed for a while to have accepted marriage equality in Wisconsin as the law so let’s move on, shifted ground and joined Ted Cruz in endorsing a constitutional amendment that would stop federal judges from finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

“My hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court will [not rule in favor of same-sex marriage],” Walker said. “If they don’t, the only other viable option out there is to support a constitutional amendment which I would [support] believing not just in marriage being defined as one man, one woman, but I also believe in states rights. I believe that is an issue that appropriately belongs in the states.”

Endorsing amending the U.S. Constitution to stop marriage equality will put Walker beyond the political pale for center-right, libertarian-leaning Republicans and independents, without whom no Republican can win the general election. It’s not just morally wrong, it’s bad politics.

Progressives, however, are also expressing opprobrium toward Jeb Bush for noting concern that same-sex marriage might lead to forcing conservative clergy to perform same-sex marriages. Bush’s fear, dismissed flippantly by his critics, would have less credence if they hadn’t already been justified by a highly publicized instance of liberal officials trying to do this in the name of anti-discrimination (arguing that if ordained clergy run a wedding chapel instead of a church, they are subordinate to the state). That case fell apart, but not for want of trying.

And there was also this exchange during last week’s Supreme Court oral arguments, in which U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli suggested that a private, religiously affiliated college could lose it’s tax-exempt status for not supporting same-sex marriage:

JUSTICE ALITO: Well,in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax¬exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?

GENERALVERRILLI: You know, I — I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I — I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.

As the Washington Blade reported, Bush also alluded to the cases of religiously conservative florists, caterers, and bakers being prosecuted for declining to provide services to same-sex weddings:

for Bush, finding “common ground” between opponents of same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian people seeking to marry is key. I think a country as open and big and tolerant and as this country ought to be able to find common ground on both of those fronts,” Bush said.

But the zealots of left and right won’t have any part of that.

More. From our comments, “Mary” writes, pertinently:

In all fairness, if 10 years ago someone had said that equal rights for gays would lead to a photographer being sued for not wanting to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony wouldn’t you have called this a scare tactic? And when people argued that bakers, florists, and reception hall owners would have to cater to gay weddings or be sued for discrimination because “equal means equal” wasn’t it said that no one would be forced to have anything to do with gay weddings if they didn’t want to?

So why should we assume that tax exemption would never be removed from churches that don’t marry gay couples? Although I support SSM now, I do believe we need specific laws to protect religious freedom.

Indeed. And Hubert Humphrey famously said “I’ll eat my hat if this [the Civil Rights Act] leads to racial quotas.” One can today argue the merits of affirmative action race-based preferences and quotas, but they certainly did come about (with hard quotas, at least, subsequently scaled back by Supreme Court rulings).

Liberty and Religious Accommodation

James Kirchick asks whether religious-based opposition to same-sex marriage, or specifically, to providing services to a same-sex wedding, is always bigotry, as some blithely assert. He writes:

One reason [New York’s Marriage Equality Act] passed is that the act included a provision that prohibits state courts from penalizing religious institutions for refusing to recognize or sanctify gay marriages or providing services to same-sex weddings.

Should this protection be extended to closely held for-profit family businesses when New Yorkers use them to exercise their religious views? “Yes,” the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to say in the Hobby Lobby case, although that dealt with birth control.

The justices may someday be asked to extend Hobby Lobby to small businesses being pressed on same-sex weddings. In rejecting the idea that a ban on same-sex marriage can be only about prejudice, New York’s high court offered a template.

It led to gay marriage here while protecting religion.

But if you dismiss faith-based opposition to same-sex marriage as “bigotry,” than there is no room for accommodating the small number of service providers who, citing religious convictions, wish not to be forcibly coerced into facilitating same-sex weddings. In this situation, if you look at who is acting like the Grand Inquisitors, it’s not the service providers.

More. Hatefully humorous, and a sign (among many) of the backlash that seems to be brewing and which certain activists seem intent on courting (and no doubt would profit from, in several senses).

As many are coming to realize, with military service and marriage equality won (or nearly so), the fundraising machine needs new enemies. So rev up the culture war against religious dissenters.

Related:

Parody:

“Either you have three friends who are LGBTQ or you pay a penalty equal to the ObamaCare penalty, proportionate to your income. So, if you fail to have ObamaCare and fail to have enough LGBTQ friends, you could pay the ObamaCare.”

Not a parody:

Republican legislators banned from Fargo coffee shop “Unless accompanied by a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual, queer, intersex or asexual person.”

The Turning Tide

Our occasional co-blogger Walter Olson shared a different take on Indiana, Arkansas and the battles over their Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), via the New York Daily News. A few excerpts, but you should go and read the whole piece:

Even if you think, as I do, that the past week’s great gay rights war was 90% hype…one take-away is still a bit amazing: America’s big businesses have emerged as a hugely effective ally of gay rights.

That is a very big deal that will reshape this crucial cultural cause, and perhaps others, for years to come. …

On what stoked the controversy:

In some parallel universe, bills like Indiana’s could have been pitched with a pluralist and moderate appeal: Until quite recently, after all, RFRAs themselves were seen as something of a bipartisan progressive cause and the group of law professors and religious scholars active in the push for state RFRA bills includes more than a few moderates, liberals and libertarians who themselves favor same-sex marriage and gay rights laws.

In our actual universe, on the other hand, where perception is nine-tenths reality, the Indiana effort was seen as the pet project of hard-liners that the state’s business community didn’t care for and didn’t want to have seen as representing the state. …

Taking aim at Indiana’s hapless governor, Walter writes:

One of the most damaging viral images was that of a ceremony in which Mike Pence was seen signing the initial bill into law surrounded by figures circled and identified as long-time bitter opponents of gay rights. Pence himself floundered on TV when asked to defend the bill, unable to finesse the gap between the culture war themes that had helped fuel its passage at home and the more moderate arguments that might have swayed national viewers. …

But he also warns, quite correctly:

Outrage can blow up in unexpected ways. When a small-town Indiana pizzeria owner truthfully answered a reporter’s inquiry by saying she was happy to serve gay customers but would have qualms about catering a gay wedding, her mom-and-pop business got hit by a classic social-media pile-on that included fake Yelp reviews and even threats of violence. No sane business—especially a big one—would want to get within miles of such mob-driven ritual shaming.

It might be tricky, in fact, to keep getting the symbolic point across while not alienating the majority of the public that—according to most polls—in fact opposes fines and penalties for bakers, florists and photographers that hold religious objections to entering into gay-marriage celebrations. …

From my perspective, after gay marriage is secured nationwide (which the consensus holds is likely to happen with a Supreme Court ruling in June, although one never knows), I think the movement from “live and let live” with legal equality, toward an embrace of authoritarian political correctness intolerant of dissent, could become much worse within the LGBT activist world.

More. Law professor Jonathan Turley, via the Washington Post. He argues that in their rush to support same-sex rights, critics of religious freedom laws have been too quick to dismiss legitimate questions about free speech and expression. You think?

On the Religion Front

The United Methodist Church is facing a possible schism between those who support and oppose same-sex marriage, the Washington Post reports. One issue:

like much of Christianity, its growth today is in the developing world—particularly in Africa and the Philippines, where United Methodists tend to vote against gay equality.

A similar problem bedevils the Anglican Communion, although the U.S. Episcopal Church has the independence to be inclusive on its own, with a small number of congregations that have chosen to perpetuate traditional discrimination breaking away so as to align with African Anglican churches that prefer hate to the gospel of love.

Meanwhile, U.S. Reform Jewish rabbis have just installed their first openly lesbian leader. Orthodox Jewish congregations remain opposed to ordaining gay rabbis and marrying same-sex couples.

Religious denominations are and should be at liberty to pursue whatever principles of faith they like, even when their tenets collide with government policy or increasingly common views of what is right and just. Things get dicey when government gets entwined with the practice of faith, as when ordering religiously affiliated organizations to pay for abortifacient drugs, or not to discriminate in hiring against gay people.

Another interesting entanglement: should military chaplains from religiously traditionalist churches be stopped from telling service members their denomination’s views against homosexuality?

If the government is going to have military chaplains, I don’t think they should be censored. Also, I’m told service members are given access to a wide variety of chaplains at military bases, both Christian and non-Christian, and from conservative evangelicals to the more liberal protestant churches. Still, this shows how government entanglement with religious faiths can work to the detriment of both.

More. Obviously, in combat situations, there is not a choice among chaplains. And yes, chaplains can take part in nondenominational or cross-denominational services and counseling as well as ministering to service members who share their faith, depending on the circumstances. This particular instance, resulting in the chaplain facing the threat of dismissal, seems to have involved conversations in which a soldier asked the chaplain about his views and those of his church.

Update. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes same-sex marriage:

Pastors—traditionally known as “teaching elders”—have already been allowed to perform same-sex marriages in states where they’re legal since last June. The new amendment leaves the discretion of whether to conduct such ceremonies with individual ministers.

“There is nothing in the amendment to compel any teaching elder to conduct a wedding against his or her judgment,” the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the church’s stated clerk, or top ecclesiastical official, said Tuesday.

Seems like a reasonable step forward that allows same-sex couples to marry within the denomination while also respecting the rights of clergy who are not yet onboard.

The church earlier eliminated barriers for ordaining gays, reports USA Today, which says “The denomination is now the largest Protestant group to recognize same-sex marriage as Christian.”

More. The National Black Church Initiative, a coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African-Americans, has broken its fellowship with Presbyterian Church USA following its recent vote to approve same-sex marriage. How hatefully homophobic are some of these African-American churches? Take a look.

Obama’s Canard

At this delicate moment in the fight for the freedom to marry, the revelation that President Obama was not telling the truth while running for office and during his first years in the presidency, when he claimed he personally opposed same-sex marriage because he felt “marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman,” is not helpful.

Yes, many assumed Obama’s position was taken for political expediency, but being cleverly disingenuous doesn’t make the side fighting for marriage equality look good; it makes us look deceitful. The story of Obama having “evolved” on this issue was a better model of how we hoped others would shift their views.

Opponents of marriage equality will present this, with some justification, as an act to manipulate the stupid yokels (who cling to their guns and religion). This is not the way to win hearts and minds of those who view marriage equality with suspicion.

More. Obama has denied lying about his views on gay marriage, saying that Axelrod confused the president’s personal views with his policy position, and that his policy position evolved. That’s pretty good spin, even if it doesn’t quite address Obama’s campaign statements that clearly sounded as if he personally opposed same-sex marriage because of the “sanctity” issue.

The truth is surely that if the polls had shown a majority of Americans continuing to oppose gay marriage, Obama would have remained in opposition as well.

Furthermore. Kerry Eleveld writes in Politico:

But the candidate voters witnessed never seemed particularly tortured by his stance. Between 2004 and 2008, Obama stated his opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for one man-one woman marriage repeatedly, robotically, and without flinching on numerous occasions. Few of those pronouncements were quite as spectacular as the one he made in 2008 on Rick Warren’s stage at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” he told Warren’s flock of Evangelicals. “Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

The implication was that, in his view, same-sex unions were not holy enough to count as marriages. It wasn’t the statement of a candidate who was squeamish about the consequences of his comments. Rather, it revealed a candidate who was perfectly willing to leverage religious homophobia in his quest for the presidency. In fact, the only hesitation Obama experienced in that moment came from an interruption of excited applause from the crowd.

The president’s loyal LGBT base seems split between two responses: (1) Obama was struggling with the issue for many years and eventually thought it through to the correct conclusion, and (2) Obama, being a smart politician, had to say he opposed same-sex marriage in order to get elected and (eventually) support marriage equality. And the correct answer is (3) Obama followed the polling.

Final word? Via Reason:

It’s not difficult to imagine a pro-choice candidate winning the presidency. But imagine, if you can, a president whose position on abortion “evolves” after the election. Imagine this president advocating that all innocent human life is worth protecting. Imagine that she appoints judges to solidify her new pro-life attitude. And then imagine that the president’s top adviser informs us that the president was a pro-lifer all along. I imagine that would be a pretty big story.

I’m glad Obama has appointed pro-gay-marriage judges. But I can also see why his being duplicitous is so unsettling. It’s reflected in other campaign deceits aimed at wooing the center, including his promises to bridge the partisan divide and to cut the budget deficit by half (a pretense with immense consequences).

The Mormon Bargain

I want to be as supportive of the new Mormon position on anti-gay discrimination as possible.  Their leadership has agreed to support legislation that protects against housing and employment discrimination, as long as it includes religious liberty protection as well. This is a major announcement from a major religion that has spent a lot of time and capital fighting against our equality in the civil sector.  I am grateful that they took this bold step.

Unfortunately, I think it’s a bad deal.  Not for the reasons the Human Rights Campaign articulates, though.  They are concerned that the religious freedom protections would serve as a loophole. I can’t argue with that, and I have a lot fewer problems with it than HRC does.

For me, the problem with the deal is what church leadership is willing to fight for. Nearly all of the problems we have had with religious liberty over the last couple of decades have been due to the anti-discrimination laws the church now finds worthwhile. HRC has illustrated exactly why that continues to be the problem.

The one thing the church leaves off the table is support for civil marriage equality. Virtually all of the lawsuits, government actions and agita that religious individuals and businesses have brought to public attention have not been over the legality of same-sex marriage, they have been because of laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation itself.

If I can have anti-discrimination laws or marriage equality, I’ll pick marriage equality every time.

I do not want to diminish the significance of this move.  It will have positive repurcussions both among gay LDS members (not to mention their families) and the broader faith community.  But by choosing to support the kinds of anti-discrimination laws that are most subject to civil abuse, and then carving out only the abuse that they are most subject to, they have done the political thing rather than the right one. There is more wrong with anti-discrimination laws in today’s world than just religious difficulties.

Worse than that is the necessary implication in the whole deal: denying that the civil laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are, themselves, the core discrimination that undermines the liberty this nation guarantees. The church will now be able to say that it opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation, while continuing to support civil laws that demand discrimination.

On balance, this concern may make little difference. I am hoping the Supreme Court will ultimately resolve marriage equality the right way, and call that form of discrimination what it is. That decision will make not a bit of difference to the Mormon church, or any other religious denomination.

But years after that happens, we will still have to deal with the legacy that anti-discrimination laws, long past their sell-by date, have left us. This may give them a bit more legitimacy than I think they deserve.

Marriage and the State, Revisited

Last November I posted about traditionalist Christian ministers proposing a separation between religious and civil marriage—meaning that legal marriage would be performed and recognized by the state, but couples also could partake of a religious ceremony, if they chose to do so. Clergy, however, would not be licensed by the state to perform marriages. Proponents of this are asking conservative clergy to pledge not to sign government marriage licenses.

As the New York Times has just run an article about this debate within conservative Christian circles, let me reiterate. Clearly, these traditionalist (or, anti-gay-equality, if you prefer) clergy are motivated by their theological opposition to same-sex marriage. So be it, I still think it’s a good idea. I’ll repeat what I said before: religion is better off the less encumbered it is by the state and its dictates. And individual liberty is better served when the state does not intrude into matters of religious conscience. As the Times article notes as it concludes:

Dr. Radner, the pledge’s other author, is on sabbatical in France, which has long separated religious marriage from civil marriage. Seeing the separation up close has only made him more of a fan.

“Just living here made me realize that the church can function rather well,” he said, “and also avoid some of the conflict that we seem to get all embroiled in in the U.S. over sexuality matters, by being somewhat disentangled, practically, from the civil marriage system.”

The Hitching Post Controversy

Is a wedding chapel “a place of public accommodation” that can’t turn away same-sex couples wanting to wed? What if the chapel is run by two ordained ministers, like the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho? Eugene Volokh writes:

“I find it hard to see a compelling government interest in barring sexual orientation discrimination by ministers officiating in a chapel. Whatever interests there may be in equal access to jobs, to education, or even in most public accommodations, I don’t see how there would be a “compelling” government interest in preventing discrimination in the provision of ceremonies, especially ceremonies conducted by ministers in chapels.

What if the wedding chapel originally advertised it performed civil as well as religious ceremonies? But now states “ordained ministers will marry you using a traditional, religious ceremony”?

LGBT activists of a progressive bent are making much of the fact that the Hitching Post changed its services following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Idaho. To my way of thinking, it makes no difference. People should be free to marry, including same-sex couples, and the government should not be forcing businesses owners, whether they be ministers or not, to perform services for same-sex weddings. But I’d add with Volokh, “especially ceremonies conducted by ministers in chapels.”

More. An evangelical gay man on why he’s raising money for the defense of Portland-based Christian bakery owners who refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding. I don’t share his view that, in this case, “a pastry is not moral approval of a religious ceremony.” Would requiring an anesthesiologist to perform his services at an abortion be ok because he’s not actually killing the fetus? (No, abortions and weddings are not the same thing, but the principle of not compelling behavior that violates religious faith is).

However, raising the defense money as an act of love is a nice gesture.

Furthermore. Walter Olson shares his take at Overlawyered.com. It’s a tangled web with much mischief on the right in an effort to create religious-liberty panic. But some on the left would have no qualms with forcing the ministers to perform their marriage (a shotgun wedding, perhaps?), so no side is looking especially good in all this.

Another Update. Resolution:

The city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, said a for-profit wedding chapel owned by two ministers doesn’t have to perform same-sex marriages. … Initially, the city said its anti-discrimination law did apply to the Hitching Post, since it is a commercial business. Earlier this week, Coeur d’Alene city attorney Mike Gridley sent a letter to the Knapps’ attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom saying the Hitching Post would have to become a not-for-profit to be exempt. But Gridley said after further review, he determined the ordinance doesn’t specify non-profit or for-profit.

If this looks like a “win” for the anti-gay rightists, it’s only because of over-reach by the city on behalf of its anti-discrimination statute. Deciding to force conservative evangelicals (especially, you know, ordained ministers) to engage in behavior supporting same-sex marriage (especially, you know, performing marriage ceremonies) makes supporters of LGBT legal equality look like modern-day Robespierres.

But you can see the thinking motivating the city and LGBT activists: If we can force religiously conservative bakers and photographers to service gay weddings or be put out of business, why not?

More still. Kathy Trautvetter and Diane DiGeloromo, the lesbian owners of BMP T-shirts, are speaking up on behalf of a conservative Christian t-shirt maker who ran afoul of the state (and progressive LGBT activists) when he declined to print shirts for a gay pride festival that he believed compromised his religious values. DiGeloromo said:

“We feel this really isn’t a gay or straight issue. This is a human issue. No one really should be forced to do something against what they believe in. It’s as simple as that, and we feel likewise. If we were approached by an organization such as the Westboro Baptist Church, I highly doubt we would be doing business with them.”

Seems simple enough.

Houston’s Subpoenaed Sermons

This story is all over the conservative blogosphere, but that doesn’t mean it can just be dismissed. As the Houston Chronicle reports:

Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city.

Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

Houston, in deeply conservative Texas, is the largest American city with an openly gay or lesbian mayor, and she has championed the anti-discrimination measure. Well and good, but sorry, this looks awful, as if they are trying to embody the charge that the true objective of LGBT activism is to outlaw the expression of disagreement with the LGBT rights agenda, especially by churches.

So why issue subpoenas for the ministers’ sermons? It makes sense, maybe, if you view churches as nothing but political action committees that happen to meet in buildings with stained glass windows—and/or you think (1) only liberal churches should be able to advocate on political issues, and (2) freedom of speech means the right to engage in speech that supports progressive activism.

As Megan McArdle wrote last summer discussing the contraceptive/abortifacient mandate: “The secular left views [religion] as something more like a hobby… That emotional disconnect makes it hard for the two sides to even debate; the emotional tenor quickly spirals into hysteria as one side says “Sacred!” and the other side says, essentially, “Seriously? Model trains?”

Update. Damage control: Houston mayor criticizes city lawyers’ subpoenas of sermons.

More. Walter Olson blogs: Scorched-pew litigation: Houston subpoenas pastors’ sermons:

Massively overbroad discovery demands are among the most common abuses in civil litigation, and it’s hard to get judges or policymakers to take seriously the harm they do. But the City of Houston, represented by litigators at Susman Godfrey, may have tested the limits when it responded to a lawsuit against the city by a church-allied group by subpoenaing the pastors’ sermons along with all their other communications.

Furthermore. Mayor’s decision to drop subpoenas fails to quell criticism. This will be a millstone around her neck, and quite probably the end of any further political aspirations.