Body Modification Protection Act Petition | General Discussion | Forum
August 3, 2012
Click this link & it will take you to sign an online petition titled- Body Modification Protection Act. Share it with anyone & everyone. It is one step that will speed up the process of us being treated as equal in society.
Hi VictoriaAuCorant, welcome to the forum!
I am absolutely for campaigning for rights, but i have to say this looks a bit simple and unrealistic to me. I don't mean to be disparaging, but it's about picking your battles. In theory many countries have some protection for our rights, but culturally are highly unlikely to grant some kind of carte blanche.
There are ways to challenge discrimination legally, but they can be a very difficult path to take, and it will need brave souls to take up the cause. Signing a petition i feel is unlikely to have any real impact.
Having said the we need to start somewhere, and i do strongly feel that we shouldn't discriminate on the basis of appearance. How do we get others to accept that discrimination is an issue for us and build impetus for change?
April 3, 2012
I somewhat agree with oakbear. Although a petition is a decent to show a majority, or even any type of force it is very unlikley to do anything other then just show there is a call for this. I think the biggest argument we face is that most protected groups are protected only because it beyond there control. (ex. one can not help being born of a certain ethnicity, race, creed, or handicap) however others such religion and sexual orientation do break this mold, as just like body modification (whether spiritual or not) is a personal choice. Yet even these things become often blurred. A great example of this is the consistent battle for gay rights and same sex marriage, as well the debate of the reference to god (ex. in the pledge of allagience)
I think in order to truly seek equality we need to start with what we actually want the equalty for. Is it because it is a spiritual (religious) discrimination, or is it because just by decideing to look different we feel injustice?
February 27, 2012
Where I agree that sometimes petitions work, in this instance I think to get equality it starts with us believing that we are equal, and showing the world that just because we look different doesn't mean we are completely different. Many times a heavily modified person gets modified because they never fit in with society, and don't feel like they want to/should. While this is not all modified people, I have talked to many people who this is their decision.
While I believe that modification is simply a spectrum, with the smallest things being makeup, nail polish, haircuts, etc., to larger things like implants, facial tattoos, tooth filing, etc. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum. Cultures all over the world use modification as labels for society to recognize a person's place in society.
The world's culture at large that does discriminate against us just hasn't caught up yet. And unfortunately, the part about religion removing anything from their books will never happen. That's the right of a religion. Body modification is not really a religion, even though some people do it for spiritual reasons, many of us do not.
I think I might have lost track of what I was thinking, so I'll just stop before I get ridiculous.
May 24, 2012
It is my understanding that rituals done for a religious purpose are protected in the United States of America by the first amendment in the Bill of Rights. I don't think I need to give a history lesson here, but I think this lady with the petition is on to something!! Modified people must integrate into every profession and be respected for our actions. I think banning together as a religious group IS our protection and way to keep the law on our side. Just because we choose to guide our "religious" topics in a way we see fit, doesn't make them more or less that other religious groups who all get together and drink kool-aid or praise a savior. I think we are "being religious" every time any of us log on to this site, legally speaking, and I'm pretty sure information shared on here makes our personal rituals deemed "religious." So, in conclusion, putting our religion in the face of others and living the best life WE know how IS, in my opinion, the way to live the change. I do wonder why no one has ever joined the CoBM and then sued the you-know-what out of some big rich company like McD's or Starbucks. Maybe one of our own may need more support than we know at this point. I am interested to see how the future unfolds. If I can help support, inspire or encourage any person reading this, feel free to let me know.
Sommersett, doesn't your argument mean we already have protection, it is simply that the law in not yet explicit?
I think the wideness of the petition includes modification for any reason. Should there be a difference?
May 24, 2012
Yes, I think we have protection as a religious group. Other countries have similar policies where religious freedom is protected. Learning to navigate the judicial system, or lack there of, in any area is challenging. Even if you have the law on your side, and do everything by the rules, it seems like many people still just "don't like the way it looks." I'm not sure about corporate policies stating "no jewelry in the face" (Quick Trip corporate policy) or "jewelry in the earlobes must be smaller than the size of a dime." (Starbucks corporate policy) in relation to religious practice. My educated guess is the company would have no legal right to force any one of us to remove our jewelry. These companies are Fortune 500 top 50 companies and have been for years!! I live in Georgia which is a 'right to work' state and any business can refuse you service or not hire you or end employment for any reason they want, as long as it doesn't breech national laws, and they don't have to give you any explanation. I have personally noticed preference and segregation because I am visibly modified. Maybe other people have as well?
As for the acceptance of discrimination and the impetus for change, I must say I think it's going to boil down to MONEY. A Supreme Court ruling to the tune of a cool million bucks which would generate massive amounts of media coverage would bring to issue to the forefront. I don't know how the proof of a problem is illustrated. I do know I am looked at funny and disrespected by people because of the way I look. If I put on a blond wig and take out facial jewelry and cover up all the ink, I am accepted and get ZERO bad looks. I guess the ears just blend in? Most people conform to the mainstream because it is easier to "go with the flow." Maybe the solution is to just be brave. Feel confident enough to be as you are….. and then make your case!!! I'm sure a class action lawsuit would be necessary because so many people feel the same way. I think we should have a right to look how we want regardless of religion, but that is not the way the structure of the government of the USA is set up. Once again, I touch on the topic of Social Darwinism. Man's law is often in conflict with 'spiritual law' and the rules are arbitrary. I can think of at least 10 examples off the top of my head… body modifications are just one of them.
May 24, 2012
Honestly, I think the petition is cute and will not be taken seriously because it is addressed to Citizens of the Universe and that is not the way the political or financial systems are set up…. according to man's law. The petition seems to be addressing the morals and ethics of humans in general, and not tangible change of corporate policy or government laws.
Also, when I say 'man's laws' I am referring to human made laws…. not anything about gender.
July 12, 2011
I didn't sign the petition because one of the demands it lists is that all religions remove dress-codes banning body modifications.
I don't think it's anyone's business to tell a religious group what their standards should be any more than it is any religious group's business to tell anyone what their standards should be. If a person chooses to join a religion and follow their standards and guidelines, so be it. If someone is not part of that religion, then the members of that religion have no right to make demands of them.
Also, the Boy Scouts of America, a private organization, has had a ban on homosexual members for a long time, and this ban has repeatedly been upheld in court because they are a private organization, not an employer. I'm sure that a ban on body modifications by any similar private organization would be upheld as well.
Furthermore, there has been at least one lawsuit known as Cloutier v. Costco. In this case, a woman named Kimberly Cloutier and another female employee of Costco both violated Costco's dress code which forbids the wearing of facial piercings during work. Cloutier was suspended and then fired for her refusal to comply. The link I provided will take you to the US Court of Appeals ruling on the case.
I didn't read the entire ruling because it is quite lengthy, but the decision is stated very early in the document, and after reading the first 40% of the document it is clear why they upheld Costco's right to fire Kimberly.
It boils down to one simple thing. The CoBM does not require that members display their facial piercings at all times. It was only Kimberly's interpretation of the church's tenets that led her to believe she must display them at all times. The court was also keen to point out that she did not extend this idea to the tattoos on her upper arms, which were covered by her shirt.
In short, I don't think we currently have the legal right to display our visible modifications at work because our church does not require that they be displayed at all times. I do believe that we have the right to modify ourselves as we see fit, and that our employers must allow us reasonable accommodations, such as covering the modification or wearing a clear plastic retainer. However, this case clearly sets a legal precedent that we do not have the right to display our modifications at all times because our church does not require such display.
There's another wrinkle in this story as well. The document mentions that Kimberly engaged in various forms of body modification including piercing and cutting. The document reads, "Although these practices were meaningful to Cloutier, they were not motivated by a religious belief."
To me, this suggests that our modifications are not so well protected at all. The CoBM is clearly a religious organization. However there are, to my knowledge, no "standard" modifications set forth by the church based on our religious belief. In other words, there is no requirement that we receive or display any particular modification to join or maintain membership in this church. There is no specific modification which must be performed at any time. There is no particular modification which has any direct and definable spiritual or religious significance, as set forth by the church.
The CoBM is a very generic religion, allowing it's members the freedom to explore body modification in whatever way they see fit. As such, the church has not set forth any such practice or modification as being required. Nor has it made any attempt to assign religious significance to any modification, allowing the individual members to find their own truth, and explore their spirituality in their own way.
I believe it is for this reason that our desire to display our modifications at work is, in fact, NOT protected by current law. The church does not require constant display of modifications, and does not assign any religious or spiritual significance to particular modifications.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this thread got me doing some research and this is what I found. This case was first ruled on by a district court in Massachusetts, and the ruling was later upheld by the United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit in December, 2004.
May 24, 2012
The dress code reminds me of other food handling dress codes enforced by the FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) which is a government agency in charge of assisting companies with US FDA requirements. One example is women must shave underarm hair when serving food. I'm sure we are all familiar with some of the crazy laws about only missionary position intercourse in some states. Totally wack yo!!
I think part of the issue in Cloutier v. Costco is that she didn't already have the facial jewelry and was in compliance with company policy in the beginning. Also, it was ruled by law that Costco offered her reasonable accommodation to practice her CoBM religion by allowing her the option to cover it with a bandage. To some people nudity is their religion and they must wear clothes to comply with laws in order to have most jobs.
March 3, 2011
Got to agree here, I'm not going to sign it. That is FAR too 'strict' shall I say? I'm not asking for all religions to allow it, I understand that it is not a part of their belief system, just like how piercings ARE a part of ours. It's not fair to them to be forced. My only wish is that schools and workplaces would be willing to provide reasonable accomodation for us.
Quick disclaimer – This post is not legal advice, i'm not qualified in any way, and this is my own thoughts rather than the CoBM's official line.
I think there is protection, but it is limited and subject to certain provisos.
In the 2002 Costco case the employer asked for the employee to compromise, which they refused to do.
If my work asks me to wear retainers or remove certain jewellery while i'm there i have no problem with it, as long it is doesn't mean the loss of a mod. That is not against my religious beliefs, as it did not seem to be for Kimberly Cloutier, or at least not a belief she could give a solid argument for.
The CoBM does not say we believe it is a right to wear whatever jewellery you want, or that it must always be displayed and uncovered, but to explore spirituality through modification. That's a subtle but important distinction.
Likewise i don't believe all mods are covered, so if someone has some religious mods, but others for a different reason, only those with a religious basis would be protected from discrimination. I don't have a massive problem with that personally, although it would be nice if people could express themselves freely.
In Ariana Iacono's case from 2010 she was prepared to compromise and discuss the matter, but the School refused. She put together a reasoned argument and won her case.
As an aside, it's different in the UK, where any 'genuinely held belief' regards religion or spirituality should not be discriminated against, regardless of membership of a formal religion or group.
That is also subject to some balances, such as health and safety, or rights of others, but an employer would be expected to reasonably compromise or accomodate this if they can, as would an employee.
I believe it would be illegal to discriminate against homosexuality in the Scouts too, which i don't think qualifies as a private body or religious group under UK law. They're all lot more multicultural and multi-faith here than they used to be.
Indeed one of the few exceptions to discrimination (be it religion, sexuality, gender, race, age or disability) is doing so on the basis of religious belief, for a private body or religious group, but this does not include businesses.
April 3, 2012
i fully agree with everything oakbear said. In the nine plus years i've been piercing i've run into any number of reasons people get modified. I have also worked numerous jobs in which mods weren't allowed due to safety or other reasons. In truth it comes down to how one find/achieves spirituality through their mods. There is a law in Illinois which exempts employees for being fired for tattoos, however they are allowed to not hire someone due to such, as well as the person can be fired for a violation of dress code policies. Many companies/agencies will compromise. numerous jobs have allowed me to cover up certain mods etc. In fact recently I was arrested on an outstanding warrant due to some unpaid fines from about two years ago. it is standard procedure for inmate safety to remove all piercings. After i explained to the commanding officer that i was a member of the church, and how i didn't want feel comfortable removing certain piercings for fear they may close up (had recently scalpled my ears to a larger gauge a few days prior) the officer asked me to remove only what i was comfortable with, and said that i would have to be placed in protective custody and restrained during the entire processing. Normally not the procedure for non violent crimes such as mine. Yet we came to a agreement. Instead of looking to make a spectacle out of our mods we should look toward the spiritual meaning. Why did we get the mod? Why do we retain the mod? Is it for everyone to see or for us in individuals? Is it possible to keep the mod and comprimise? Would the mod loose it's meaning if we didn't/couldn't?
Further as I stated before even protected groups are still persecuted, there are loopholes for anything.
February 27, 2012
Excellent point, Jimmyenglish. Those are really interesting questions that you've brought up. I agree with your statement "Instead of looking to make a spectacle out of our mods we should look toward the spiritual meaning."
Most of the time I don't mind compromising. I may think it's ridiculous, but on the same token, I'd rather have a job right now than have my nose ring in all the time.
February 8, 2012
in all honesty i have thought of drafting a petition myself. i live in the state of north carolina and under employee hiring procedure they cannot discriminate on religion etc, HOWEVER, it states that if the two parties can reach a comfortable compromise then it is ok… i have always told myself that if i had to take out my piercings for a few hours and just show my tattos and brandings that that seems like more than a reasonable compromise… i feel like a petition for allowing modifiications in the workplace would for lack of a more proper term prostitute the things we CoBM members believe in… i mean think about it we do these things for spiritual, emotional, and psychological balance…. if we allowed such a petition to pass then any dipshit who got a tattoo or piercing at a party during a binge drinkathon could cry wolf… i believe that if you can show that you are in fact an active member of the church then certain concessions can be reached… also as a mexican immigrant i understand the cultural boundaries of this…. some cultures around the world are just more open to modifications(ie. facial tattoos, facial piercings, etc)… unfortunately the united states is not as open about it as those countries… neither is mexico… on the basis of gang affiliation and whatnot… anyway i agree with this petition but will not sign bc to believe that a piece of legislature will be so easily passed to protect modifications seems a little farfetched to me… the best we can hope for is that through our actions, words, philosophies that employers will broaden their standards for workers and such…
September 17, 2012
I've had a similar problem occur at work, I believe my employer has overstepped his bounds, by asking me for details about my religious exemption on my piercings, but anyway; Our dress code states that tongue rings can be clear spacers (lol which last about 30 min in my mouth before I accidently(sic) bite them in half) and that we can have no facial jewelry and can not cover it with a band-aid or use clear spacers. Many co-workers have a nose stud and claim religious exemption. I don't know if they are religious about their piercings or not, not my call to judge. I would like one day to see some consistency across the board here. I have no problem using clear spacers on my facial jewelry, if they will make that compromise.
On a side note, my employer wanted a mission statement, or something about the church and requested the website.. I gave him the Mission statement, Statement of Faith, Vision Statement, and the website address. I believe he has gotten more from me than any other person claiming religious exemptions for certain days off, certain times of day to go on breaks, wearing some form of dress, or wearing facial jewelry.
Wow… sorry for the rambling I thought I could contribute, but seems I may have sidetracked the thread.
January 7, 2011
It seems common for something such as nose rings to be allowed, as some may have cultural and religious reasons (but many won't), but anything out of that accepted norm can challenge people. It's sad that perhaps we have to do more to help people understand, but i guess this is human nature to a degree. On the plus side, we have the privilege of offering others the chance to open their minds.
I hope everything works out for you, it sounds like you are taking exactly the right approach.
December 4, 2012
If only there was such a passionate group of people in Australia as you guys…
I'm an ozzy and I work in law enforcement, have done for years..
I have a full sleeve on one arm, Japanese art and in no way offensive, had sleeve before joining law enforcement and have had it during… Now after all this time they want to put policy in place stating tattoos are not allowed and must be fully covered…
I personally believe that if this is to be a policy and a rule then so be it, if I joined tomorrow I would abide by it, however as this was never the case when I started I don't see why I would need to cover up now….
I have letters of commendation for my work from members of the public and have had many members of public state how much they liked the artwork I have and how interested they were in the art…
Now I am to be treated differently to all other officers just because of my artwork…
I feel this is outrageous and a little out of the times, this is the 21st century and I feel saddened that a government organization could be so out if touch with reality….
I work day in day out and I love my job and love protecting the public, but must say I have now lost all respect for my organizations decision making ability and the powers that be who make these ridiculous decisions…
You are all so passionate in your reply's, I wish you were from Australia cos we could use sum great people like u standing alongside us as we fight this ridiculousness …
Hi H welcome to the forum.
It's sad to hear your predicament, but cheering to hear your passion.
There are members in Australia, so don't think you're alone.
Please get in contact if you feel there is anything the CoBM might be able to help with.
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