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.

4 barks and woofs on “Didn’t See That Coming?

  1. “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.”

    Nice try, but that won’t fly: not with the wingnuts, and not with the rest of us. They already tried that in GA, with an amendment to the bill clearly stating that the proposed legislation wouldn’t run afoul of prior state and federal discrimination prohibitions. The bill died in committee when the proponents complained that allowing the amendment would “gut the bill.”

  2. A commenter on another website had a brilliant idea: Pull a (good) James O’Keefe. Hire heterosexual people and have them enter businesses, exhibiting all the stereotypical gay behavior that RWers believe are true, then file massive lawsuits against the businesses when service is denied.

  3. I recommend a column by William Rhoden in the sports section of today’s Times, “Off the Dribble And Into a Firestorm”. He notes that when Pence blames “outside agitators” for the backlash he sounds eerily like other segregationists from another era: George Wallace, Lester Maddox and Orville Faubus, all governors who said that marches against their segregation policies were the results of outside agitators, implying that blacks inside their states were content with the status quo. Here we have another governor claiming to be misunderstood. If he thinks he can find a way to fix this bill he’d better hurry because the NCAA Final Four is headed to Indianapolis next week, it being too late to change the venue, and the posse is coming.

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