You know we’ve reached a strange point in the political discourse when the right wants to compare President Obama to Hitler, while Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) wanted to compare himself to Martin Luther King.
Two weeks ago, Cuccinelli urged his allies to be willing to “go to jail” to resist the Affordable Care Act’s provision that treats contraception as preventive medical care. As Evan Mcmorris-Santoro reported, this week, the state A.G. took this argument to the next level.
In a radio interview, Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate this year, explained his belief that opposition to contraception coverage is effectively the same thing as the fight for civil rights. He argued:
“Whenever I talk about religious liberty, you know they turn it around. All they talk about – they don’t talk about denying religious liberty. They talk about contraception. And I’m not talking about contraception. Government doesn’t have a role in contraception. Government does have a role in protecting your civil rights especially today on MLK Day. The man who really came up with the American non-violent protest theory of civil disobedience. It’s pretty egregious that they can’t get any higher than contraception when we’re talking about protecting people’s religious liberty.”
Cuccinelli has also begun citing King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail for support.
Just so we’re clear, in the mind of Virginia’s attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate, there’s a moral equivalence between the fight against racial discrimination and the fight to prevent covering birth control as preventive health care.
And for the record, Cuccinelli wasn’t kidding.
Just to reiterate, not only is the comparison ridiculous on its face, but the hysteria surrounding the underlying policy is wholly unnecessary.
Under federal law, insurance companies must now make preventive care available without copays. It was up to the Obama administration to establish what counts as “preventive care” and officials chose a variety of common-sense policies, including mammograms, HIV screenings, immunizations, and contraception.
No one will be required to have any of these services; they’ll simply be available. In terms of finances, the Obama administration exempts churches and other houses of worship from financing care they may find objectionable, and the White House also created a compromise in which religiously-affiliated employers wouldn’t have to pay for contraception directly.
That’s it. That’s the entirety of the “controversy.”
For the far-right Virginian, this policy is so excessive, people should simply ignore the law and invite punishment – and he’s a modern-day King, leading the fight, because allowing private employers to deny basic medical coverage to their employees is a matter of “religious liberty.”