Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Discrimination By Decree

Because the Louisiana legislature didn’t pass a law legalizing anti-gay discrimination, Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order doing just that.

Trying to regain ground after a setback in the legislature, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Tuesday to protect people who exercise their religious beliefs on matters related to same-sex marriage.

Jindal outlined the order in a statement: “This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The order — which comes a day after Jindal formed an exploratory committee to seek the GOP nomination for president — is posted in full [here].

The order came just hours after the state legislature essentially killed the Marriage Conscience Act, a bill similar to the executive order that he now seeks to impose using his authority as governor.

So let me see if I have this right: Congress is useless on matters such as immigration, the minimum wage, and climate change, so President Obama issues executive orders to deal with them within the scope of his powers.  The Republicans claim that he’s lawless, overriding the will of Congress, stomping on the Constitution, and should be impeached.  Gov. Jindal does it and he’s upholding freedom and doing the work that the legislature refuses to do.

I hope he runs for president, I really do.  It will be the acme of karma to see him get his head handed to him in the first primary and then wait for him to show up on late night TV hawking reverse mortgages.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jeb Steps In Another One

Just when he thought he had extricated himself from the war quagmire, Jeb Bush has stepped in another one.  This time it’s marriage equality.

Jeb Bush reiterated his opinion on a same-sex couple’s right to marry on Sunday, going so far as to say he doesn’t believe in a constitutional right to marriage equality, an issue currently being deliberated in the Supreme Court.

Speaking during an interview with The Brody File on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Bush, whom BuzzFeed dubbed “2016’s Gay-Friendly Republican,’ called traditional marriage ‘a sacrament.’

“To imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, a child-centered family system is hard to imagine,” he told David Brody. “So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling … because they are going to decide whatever they decide, I don’t know what they are going to do, we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”

First, let’s unpack some of this garbage.  He’s right; there is no explicit constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  Nor is there an explicit constitutional right to straight marriage.  There is no mention in the Constitution about marriage at all.  However, the Supreme Court has said that marriage “is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,'” so they’ve got you there, Mr. Bush.

Second, traditional marriage may be a sacrament to some people and faiths, but it is also a legal contract that doesn’t require the blessings of a religion to be binding.  (For that matter, circumcision is also a sacrament in certain faiths, but I can provide evidence that in at least one case it had nothing whatsoever to do with religion.)  Marriage, however you define it, does not depend on religion.  If you want to have a nice wedding in your choice of a place of worship, whether it’s in a cathedral with a priest, a synagogue with a rabbi, or a meeting house with the Friends gathered around, knock yourself out.  But twenty minutes in front of a judge at the courthouse has just as much legal weight.

Third, it is demonstrably false that same-sex couples cannot provide for a “committed family life [and] a child-centered family system.”  Same-sex couples who adopt or go through surrogacy want children and want to raise them; they don’t get them because someone forgot to make a trip to Walgreens or things got a little too hot and heavy behind the DQ in their mom’s minivan.  So marriage equality could actually make the home better for a child who is wanted by the parents, and there is no scientifically valid study to show that having two moms or two dads is any different than being raised by straight parents.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at Mr. Bush’s transparent toadying to the homophobic base of the GOP.  Not so long ago he was saying comparatively moderate things about marriage equality, asking people to “show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections.”  But once he’s playing in Pat Robertson’s ball park, all bets are off, even going so far as to muse that discrimination against a gay couple buying flowers is okay because we’re a big country and there’s always room for bigotry dressed up in “religious freedom” drag.

This is beginning to be a pattern with him.  First he blew the Iraq war question, which he had to know would come up given that it’s his family’s business.  Now he turns into a culture warrior, apparently trying to horn in on the schtick of Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal, none of whom will give any ground on being sniveling homophobes of the first order.

It makes you wonder what the next turd pile he’s going to step in… Hey, Jeb, how about that auto bailout?  Should we have let Detroit go bankrupt?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Short Takes

Nepal asks foreign rescuers to leave as hope fades for finding more earthquake survivors.

Second gunman identified in attack in Texas.

NYPD officer shot over the weekend died from his injuries.

Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to New Jersey ban on “gay repair” therapy.

Americans like their drones.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

In Case You Cared

Via Balloon Juice, who got it from Town Hall, a site that doesn’t get linked here because ick.

“We will not obey.”

That’s the blunt warning a group of prominent religious leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider same-sex marriage.

“We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,” read a document titled, Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage. “We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve.”

“While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross,” the pledge states.

The signees are a who’s who of religious leaders including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, National Religious Broadcasters president Jerry Johnson, Pastor John Hagee, and Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.

Try to imagine within your wildest dreams how much anyone cares what a bunch of sniveling bigots think.  All this tells us is that they know how irrelevant they have become to the discussion.

And how exactly will they “not obey”?  Not get gay-married?  (On behalf of gay men everywhere, may I say “Whew!”)  Open a bakery or a flower shop?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Screed From Baton Rouge

In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) gives a whiny defense to his stand against marriage equality.

I hold the view that has been the consensus in our country for over two centuries: that marriage is between one man and one woman. Polls indicate that the American consensus is changing — but like many other believers, I will not change my faith-driven view on this matter, even if it becomes a minority opinion.

Fine, but it’s been less than fifty years since marriage between one man and one woman was the consensus as long as they were of the same race or color.  Which means that in Louisiana, Mr. Jindal could not have married a white woman.  To a lot of people, that view was faith-driven.  And that law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all. This strategy requires populist social conservatives to ally with the business community on economic matters and corporate titans to side with social conservatives on cultural matters. This is the grand bargain that makes freedom’s defense possible.

In short, religious bigotry has a long and proud tradition in America, and no bunch of radical liberals and people of conscience are going to put an end to it.

I doubt that Mr. Jindal is self-aware enough that “if it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all” (just pithy enough to fit on a bumper sticker) is exactly what the fight for gay rights is all about.  No one is asking him to change his faith-driven view on anything.  You are free to discriminate against anyone you want in your church or in your mind, but if you’re going to sell cakes, flowers, and hotel space to the public, you have to sell to all the public or not at all.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Short Takes

Handshake between Presidents Obama and Castro.

President Obama: Partisanship over Iran deal has gone “too far.”

Pope calls 1915 Armenian massacre “genocide.”

Gander sauce for anti-gay legislators in North Dakota coffee shop.

Jordan Spieth wins the Masters.

The Tigers swept the Indians this weekend, and the Perfect Season continues.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Florida House Bashes Gay Families

Despite the fact that courts have invalidated Florida’s ban on gay people adopting children, the state legislature still wants to interfere with gay families.

The Florida House voted today for a “conscience protection” bill allowing private adoption agencies to refuse placement of children with gay couples.

The 75-38 vote sending the proposal to the state Senate came after more than 90 minutes of often impassioned debate.

Proponents said the measure by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, would prevent some adoption agencies from halting services because of moral convictions against gay marriage. Opponents, mostly Democrats, argued that the bill (HB 7111) amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays.

The bill does not specifically mention gays. It permits agencies with written codes of ethics to refuse adoptions sought by parents whose lifestyles are at odds with the agency.

Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, told the House about feeling fear as a boy in 1977, seeing Anita Bryant conducting her notorious campaign to repeal a Miami-Dade County gay-rights ordinance. He said 36 states now recognize same-sex marriage and predicted that the issue will be resolved nationwide in a Supreme Court ruling next summer.

“This fight is over,” Richardson told the GOP majority. “Your fight is not with me. Your fight is not with the Democratic Party. Your fight is not with the gay community.

“Your fight is among yourselves because certain factions in the Republican Party are not going to yield to what is happening in society.”

Brodeur and other supporters of the bill said they do not support discrimination. They said church-affiliated agencies in Boston, San Francisco and Illinois have curtailed adoption services rather than comply with legal edicts to place children with gay parents.

I call bullshit on Mr. Brodeur for the simple reason that the bill was proposed with the encouragement and endorsement of the state’s chief panty-sniffer and buttinsky John Stemberger.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, cheered the House vote. Last week, the chamber passed a large adoption package which included a section striking down Florida’s ban on gay marriage — which was invalidated in court a few years ago. The Senate is set to pass that package (HB 7013) next week, including the repeal of the adoption ban.

“The house has atoned for its mistake last week and done the right thing,” Stemberger said of the “conscience protection” bill.

Enough said.  Mr. Stemberger has a long history of  support for state-sanctioned homophobia and bigotry.  So if he’s in favor of a law, you know it’s going to be mischief and hatred for the LGBT community.

The bill still has to get through the Senate, and there’s hope that it will not make it.  But the simple fact that the House still thinks it’s okay to allow discrimination is shameful.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Unforced Errors

Sally Kohn at TPM explains why the government isn’t “forcing” anyone to sell pizza to a gay wedding when it outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

… somehow a fringe set of rightwing conservatives want us all to believe that hapless business owners are somehow being forced, against their will, to serve pizza to gay people. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t want to serve pizza to gay people, by all means, don’t—which, by the way, is legal in Indiana and 28 other states, but even where it is illegal, you’re still free to do so and deal with the consequences of breaking the law. That, pizza shop owner, is your choice. And if you don’t want to deal with those consequences, well, no one is forcing you to be in the pizza business. You’re free to do something else.

[…]

In the United States, private businesses get all kinds of government support—a functional monetary system, police that safeguard private property, roads that help deliver customers and goods, public schools that educate workers, telecommunications infrastructure, legal protections against copyright and patent infringement, tax benefits for business expenses and employee health care, legal shields for owners and more. No one is forcing businesses to take advantage of all those benefits, nor forcing you to start a business to begin with nor forcing you to do so in a state with non-discrimination laws or in the United States to begin with.

Don’t like following the laws that apply to businesses—including serving all customers equally? Then don’t start a business. That’s your choice.

And yet being forced to comply with messed-up Christian beliefs that it’s okay to demonize your fellow human being because of an obsession with their sex lives is “freedom.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

It’s The American Way

The owners of the pizza place in Indiana that got all the attention last week for saying they’d refuse to cater a gay wedding because Jesus have parlayed that into nearly $900,000 in donations from like-minded people.

So the lesson is that if you broadcast to America that you’re a religious bigot and when you get the appropriate backlash, you rake in a fortune and retire, resting assured that that’s what Jesus would do.

There’s a business model for the ages.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Reading

The Iran Nuclear Deal by the Numbers — Graham Allison at The Atlantic explains it all for you.

To assess the impact of the accord that the United States and its partners reached with Iran on Thursday, it is useful to start with five bottom lines. To what questions are 15,000, 12,000, 10, 5, and 0 the answers?

  • 15,000 is the number of pounds of low-enriched uranium that would be neutralized.
  • 12,000 is the number of centrifuges that would be decommissioned.
  • 10 is the number of months by which Iran’s “breakout” timeline to a bomb would be extended.
  • 5 is the number of bombs’ worth of low-enriched uranium that would be neutralized.
  • 0 is the number of bombs’ worth of plutonium that Iran would be able to produce.

Of course, the framework accord still has to be translated into a more specific, binding agreement. And even more important, assuming that is done, the agreement has to be implemented. But if this happens, a state that currently has seven bombs’ worth of enriched uranium and 19,000 centrifuges, and is six weeks away from breaking out to produce the core of a bomb, will have been pushed back materially on each of these fronts. Moreover, the route to a bomb using plutonium rather than uranium, which Iran has pursued for over a decade at its Arak facility, will have been abandoned.

[…]

By eliminating 12,000 centrifuges and five bombs’ worth of low-enriched uranium, the accord extends the breakout timeline for Iran to produce the highly enriched uranium core of a bomb to one year. By requiring the reconfiguration of Iran’s planned plutonium-producing reactor at Arak, the accord essentially closes this door to a bomb. And by agreeing to establish a new mechanism that will allow unprecedented access for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to suspicious nuclear sites anywhere in Iran, the accord makes it much more difficult for Iran to cheat.

Between this framework accord and a final agreement lie many difficult negotiations. On literally hundreds of specific items, there are countless devils in the details. From my personal analysis of the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, many of these details matter more than the announced constraints on Iran’s enrichment activity at its declared facilities. Most important for me will be requirements for transparency and verification that maximize the likelihood that if Iran attempts to develop nuclear weapons at a covert facility, intelligence communities in the United States and other nations will discover that fact before Iran reaches its goals.

In sum, the Obama administration and its indefatigable secretary of state deserve a hearty round of applause for what has been achieved at this point. What remains to be done will be even more difficult, and in the longer run more significant, in stopping Iran short of a nuclear bomb.

Pence Agonisties — Charlie Pierce on the loneliness of the governor of Indiana.

Suddenly, Mike Pence, the bag of hammers who is for the moment governor of Indiana, wakes on a lovely day in Indianapolis and discovers that he’s pretty much the sole occupant of the Bigot Archipelago.

Georgia’s version of this law likely has breathed its last. And, for a while, it looked like Arkansas was going to follow Indiana into the gorge of eternal peril. But then the CEO of Walmart announced that these religious liberty restoratives were inconsistent with Walmart’s social conscience. (Apparently, he owns an electron microscope.) Then, in what I am certain is purely coincidental, Governor Asa Hutchinson not only came out in opposition to the Arkansas law, he threw it back into the legislature whence it had come to his desk.

To ensure that the state is “a place of tolerance,” Mr. Hutchinson said, he was considering using an executive order that would seek to balance the “competing constitutional obligations” if the legislature declined to make changes to the bill. “What is important from an Arkansas standpoint is one, we get the right balance,” he said, “and secondly, we make sure that we communicate we’re not going to be a state that fails to recognize the diversity of our workplace, our economy and our future.”

Translation from the original WeaselSpeak: Good god, Pence is an idiot. Bring yo’ bidness to Arkansas!

And, for those of you keeping score at home, the following is a partial list of the institutions that are more progressive and that make more sense on this issue than Mike Pence does.

The NCAA.

Dan Quayle’s Old Family Newspaper

NASCAR

Walmart

The state of Arkansas

But, to be entirely fair, Pence still does have some allies out there.

In the last twenty-four hours, much of the mainstream media has shown itself perfectly willing to serve as agents of Satan (or should I use Moloch to make you feel better?). Most of the news anchors, reporters, and opinion writers of the press are perfectly fine forcing you to violate your conscience as long as they do not have to. They have suddenly discovered Jesus dined with sinners. They just ignore that he said “go and sin no more.” There is no evidence Jesus baked a cake to celebrate sin, but the media wants you to think he did. Just pay no attention to the guy in the Bible who spoke the most about hell fire. Oh wait, that would be the very same Jesus.

…and the greatest of these is charity.

When even Walmart’s figured that out, it’s time to wonder where your soul went.

The New Ball Game — Jay Martel at The New Yorker has some suggestions on how to speed up the game.

Once a hitter enters the batter’s box, he will be required to keep at least one foot in the box until the end of his at-bat. The foot cannot be prosthetic; it must be attached by musculature to the hitter’s body. Hitters may leave the box under certain circumstances, including a wild pitch, a play on the bases, or catching on fire. In the event of an at-bat that lasts for more than three hours, the player can be brought water and snacks. If a hitter dies of natural causes, he may be removed, headfirst.

Three timers will be placed in all Major League stadiums. The first will count down the number of seconds that have elapsed between pitches; a second will track the minutes between innings; and a third will tally the hours of game-watching that the fans will never get back as they march inexorably toward death.

Relief pitchers will be encouraged to warm up at home.

Hitters may adjust their athletic cups only as they approach the batter’s box. Once in the box, they can touch themselves only to swat at an insect or to punctuate a sentence such as “You know who likes pizza? This guy!” Pitchers will be allowed to pick up the rosin bag only fifteen times between batters. They may, however, absolutely go to town on the bills of their caps, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Managers can no longer rush onto the field to challenge a call. Instead, robots with painted frowning faces loosely based on the managers’ actual faces will roll onto the field to confront umpires with angry whirring noises. These robots will all be programmed to return to the dugout within two minutes.

A batter who hits ten foul balls in a single at-bat is allowed to take first base. The team in the field will then have five minutes to chase him down and try to get first base back from him. If it fails, the batter’s team wins the game.

Only the Chipmunks’ version of “We Will Rock You” will be permitted at Major League stadiums. The organ music leading up to the crowd shouting “Charge!” will be scaled down from six notes to four. The lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” will now be “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks/At a reasonable hour I’d like to get back.” There are no other lyrics.

The instant-replay system will be streamlined as follows: the manager will signal to the umpire that the play is being challenged. (A written form is no longer necessary.) The umpire will then relay the request to the replay booth by firing a track pistol three times into the air. The replay official will then rewind the game tape using state-of-the-art beta technology. Assuming that there are no snags or threading issues, the official will promptly watch the play and decide whether to uphold the call or change it. After a document is prepared verifying the official decision and this document is signed, sealed, and sent via pneumatic tubing to the office of the commissioner, a semaphore signal will be given to the umpire, who will make the appropriate call. If this process takes longer than thirty-five minutes, the challenge is automatically rescinded.

If a game lasts more than twelve innings, sabres will be supplied to twenty fans from each side. The team with the most surviving members after the ensuing melee wins. All feet must be cleared from the batter’s box before the next game.

The Tigers’ home opener is Tuesday.

 Doonesbury — Is the caller there?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Huck Off

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee knows how to scare up a crowd.

He’s almost right.  Gay-rights activists won’t be satisfied until there are no more churches or Christians in America who treat the LGBT community as pariahs or who exploit their fear and loathing of them for money and political power.  As it is, there are plenty of churches and Christians who welcome the LGBT community.

Actually, most gay-rights activists don’t give a shit what the churches or Christians do as long as they leave the rest of us in peace.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Perspective

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), last seen lecturing Iran on democracy while selling out the country’s foreign policy, on why gay people should be glad to only being told they can’t have Jesus pizza:

“I think it’s important we have a sense of perspective,” Cotton said. “In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.”

Don’t look now, Tom, but there’s a lawyer in California who is proposing a state law that would have gay people shot in the head.  So it’s not like the idea of executing gays hasn’t occurred to people here.

Misconception By The Slice

A lot of people have been energized by the pizzeria owners in Indiana who say that they would refuse to cater a gay wedding.

Crystal O’Connor, whose family owns Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., told local TV station WBND that their Christian beliefs would prevent them from catering a same-sex couple’s wedding.

“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide them pizzas for a wedding, we would have to say no,” O’Connor told the news station.

Both O’Connor and her father, Kevin, told WBND that they supported the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law Thursday by Gov. Mike Pence (R).

Set aside the gigglesnorting and sneering at the idea of serving pizza at a gay wedding; c’mon, that’s a set-up for cheap shots (and yes, I thought of a few myself).  The point is that Gov. Pence has said again and again that the law was not intended to allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, and you mean liberals have a “misconception” about the law.

Well, apparently it’s not just the mean liberals.  The O’Connors are supporters of both Gov. Pence and the law, and they seem to think that’s what the law allows them to do.  So it’s not just us.

Now it could well be that with or without the law the O’Connors would have refused to cater a gay wedding.  But the passage of the law emboldened them to broadcast their point of view.  It was them, not the mean liberals, who brought it up.

Lesson Learned

It looks like somebody got the hint.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has decided not to sign the religious freedom bill the Republican legislature sent to his desk a day earlier.

Instead, Hutchinson said at a press conference on Wednesday, he would send the bill back to the state legislature to amend it so it better reflects the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Hutchinson’s move means that he’s not directly following the path of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) who signed a controversial religious freedom bill in his state and has been the target of nationwide criticism by opponents of the new law who argue that it essentially allows businesses to discriminate against gay people.

“The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not mirror the federal law,” Hutchinson said. “It doesn’t mirror it in a couple of ways, particularly allowing the First Amendment to be asserted in the private litigation between parties or reliance on the state law in those claims. Therefore I asked that changes be made in the legislation and I’ve asked that the leaders in the General Assembly to recall the bill so that it can be amended to reflect the terms of the federal legislative Freedom and Restoration Act.”

The strong objection by Walmart, one of the largest employers in the state and based in Bentonville, might have something to do with it, too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pence Comes Clean

Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) finally answered the question that George Stephanopolous kept asking him last Sunday about the RFRA law he signed last week.

INDIANAPOLIS—Addressing the controversy surrounding his state’s recently signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana governor Mike Pence forcefully insisted to reporters Monday that the new law has nothing at all to do with what it was explicitly intended to do. “Let me state directly that in no way is this law designed to allow the kind of anti-gay discrimination that is the law’s single reason for existing,” said Pence, emphasizing that provisions authorizing businesses to refuse service to gay customers were nothing more than the only explanation for the law being drafted in the first place. “Regardless of the widespread misconceptions surrounding it, I want to reassure Hoosiers of all backgrounds that this law will never be interpreted in the way it was unambiguously designed to be from the very beginning.” Pence further clarified that the act’s sole purpose was in fact to safeguard the free exercise of religion it was in no way whatsoever created to protect.

I’m glad he cleared that up.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Great and Powerful Gays

Here’s a novel approach to perpetuating discrimination against gays and lesbians: they already have too much power, so let’s not give them any more.

Gay Americans simply have too much political power to be afforded equal rights under the Constitution, according to a brief filed by the state of Ohio asking the Supreme Court to permit that state to continue to practice marriage discrimination. Ohio’s claim comes as part of a greater effort to convince the justices that laws which discriminate again gay men, lesbians and bisexuals should not be treated with skepticism by courts applying the Constitution’s guarantee that everyone shall be afforded “the equal protection of the laws.”

Under this provision of the Constitution, most forms of discrimination are entirely permissible. It is acceptable, for example, for the government to discriminate against unqualified job applicants when making hiring decisions, or to discriminate against people who commit serious crimes in deciding who to incarcerate.

When the government discriminates against groups that have historically been subject to unequal treatment that has little basis in their ability to “perform or contribute to society,” however, the Court applies what is known as “heightened scrutiny” to such discrimination. This is why discrimination on the basis of race or gender is typically not allowed, because racial minorities and women have historically been subject to the kind of irrational discrimination that triggers heightened scrutiny. A major question in the marriage equality litigation now pending before the Supreme Court is whether the nation’s long history of irrational discrimination against gay people also justifies applying such scrutiny to laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Uh, excuse me, but look next door, Ohio.  If we were so powerful, Indiana would not only not have passed their RFRA last week, we would have forced the state to do a complete make-over, made the Purdue football team play in tank-tops and short-shorts, replaced the state song with “It’s Raining Men,” and made Birkenstocks the official state shoe.

Sheesh.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Didn’t See That Coming?

Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) seemed genuinely surprised at the backlash to his state’s new law that legalized gay-bashing in the name of “religious freedom.”

Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

“I support religious liberty, and I support this law,” Pence said in an exclusive interview. “But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”

The governor, although not ready to provide details on what the new bill will say, said he expects the legislation to be introduced into the General Assembly this coming week.

By yesterday he seemed to regain his footing and went on the defensive, going back to his bullshit arguments that the Indiana law is the same as the federal law.  It’s not; the Indiana law addresses individuals and their ability to use “religious liberty” as their reason for discriminating against customers.*

Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act will not be changing despite critics saying it allows business owners to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, state Gov. Mike Pence said today during an exclusive interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

Pence described the media coverage and opposition to the law as “shameless rhetoric,” saying it strengthens the foundation of First Amendment rights rather than discriminates.

“We’re not going to change the law,” he said, “but if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, than I’m open to that.”

His reaction to the reaction is pure knee-jerk defensiveness: blame the media, blame the rhetoric, blame the dog for his farts.

But he has no one to blame for the backlash but himself.  It’s not as if he didn’t know that this would happen, and if he honestly didn’t, then he has no business being in elected office.  It’s not as if equality for LGBTQ people and marriage equality just happened last week.

Laws such as RFRA are the last gasps of the anti-gay forces to barricade themselves against the progress of the 21st century.  The more they scramble the more they know they’re going to lose.

*Garrett Epps at The Atlantic explains why the Indiana RFRA law is not like the others.