When Indiana governor Mike Pence signed his state’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law the applause from bigots was deafening. But the state of Indiana is not alone. Religious freedoms bills have popped up all over the country.
Arkansas. Wyoming. And even my home state of Georgia. It’s enough to make you think this is all part of a plan. hmm.
So this is what it’s come to? The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to legalize gay marriage all over America some time this summer. Conservatives are already freaking out about it.
If you’re an anti-gay bigot, your friends in the Party of Lincoln (Republicans) have a sure-fire remedy. Something that’ll help you pretend it’s 1955 all over again. Just because gays are getting married doesn’t mean you have to get with the times.
If you should ever find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having to do business with some openly gay individuals. Simply refuse them service. Just like your grandparents did those uppity coloreds back in the day.
You don’t have to ignore them until they walk out of your shop in frustration. You don’t have to quote some price that’s three times your normal fee. Just hang a sign in the window. No gays allowed.
That’s exactly what these laws are for. You’re free to be a bigot. Well, you can do that anyway. But now you can’t get in legal trouble for it. At least in some states.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
The original defense for these laws was that they’re based on a 20-year old federal law signed by President Bill Clinton. That should tell you something right there. Anytime Republicans support anything signed by Slick Willie, lookout………… There’s B.S. ahead.
The original law was meant to shield Native Americans from government persecution. Some Indian tribes used the drug peyote in their religious ceremonies. Peyote is an illegal drug that makes its users go on wild trips. Kinda like LSD or Angel Dust.
You see visions. You talk to dead relatives. The whole nine.
The law simply made it illegal for the GOVERNMENT to prosecute the Native Americans who used peyote for RELIGIOUS purposes. So it is in fact, a religious freedom law.
That law no longer applies to states, and is only enforced by the feds.
Conservatives saw a weakness and pounced. The timing was right. After the 2014 election Republicans had total control of way too many states. The fact that they were misusing the original law never mattered to them.
Remember, these things are all planned. States don’t just suddenly pass the exact same law all on their own. It’s as contrived as the “tea party”. The “war on Christmas.” The “Clinton email scandal”.
Gays, Guns and God
Boy, times have really changed! In 2004 the George W. Bush re-election campaign fought to have gay marriage measures put on ballots in key states. These measures were meant to draw Evangelicals to the polls. It worked like a charm.
The Religious right just couldn’t wait to vote their disapproval of gays and gay marriage. I can remember hearing people talking about banning gay marriage by amending the constitution. That was a little over 10 years ago.
Gays, guns and God was the formula to get Republicans elected to the White House for years to come…….. Wrong.
It’s hard to overstate the complete and total retreat that happened in the state of Indiana. For the right, this is what defeat looks like.
The state law that made it legal to discriminate against gays did not stand. In fact it was amended to do the exact opposite. That’s a pretty big deal. An effort to legalize discrimination under the cover of religious freedom went up in flames.
After mounting pressure from big business. The state of Indiana finally did the right thing.
They changed to law to say the Religious Freedom Restoration Act can’t be used as legal cover for people or businesses to discriminate against gays. This applies to housing. Employment. Services. Discrimination of ANY kind.
Of course these restrictions don’t apply to religious institutions. Churches. Synagogues. Mosques.
So no, churches will not be forced to accept gay members. Christian ministers still won’t have to officiate over gay marriage ceremonies. They are free to discriminate. In fact, any non-profit enterprise can do the same.
Notice how quickly things moved once money got involved? One day Governor Pence was happily signing away gay rights. Within a week he was dodging questions about it on T.V.
When Arkansas passed a similar law it was vetoed by their governor. At the request of Wal-Mart of course. The “religious freedom” bill here in Georgia has also suffered an untimely death. These Republicans learn quick. They know where their bread is buttered.
Sometimes people do the right thing for the wrong reasons. That’s just a fact of life. But no matter how we got here, we can’t use religious conviction to excuse bigotry.