I fear I am beginning to find some common ground with Libertarians and the Tea Party. Heaven help me.
My fundamental disagreement with the L and TP folks is I sincerely believe it is an appropriate and necessary role of government to protect the rights of minorities. The notion that everything should be left to the States to decide or to the will of the majority is, to my mind, ludicrous. Another name for the will of the majority is mob rule. That said, if there was ever an example of government overreach it is the current version of Indiana’s ridiculous Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Describing it as non-pejoratively as possible, the RFRA was passed for the purpose of allowing people to cite their religious beliefs as a defense in criminal and civil cases brought when their actions might otherwise be viewed as improperly discriminatory. If your religion tells you left-handed people are sinister you can refuse to sell them muffins at your Manna From Heaven Bakery. If your religion teaches that women who wear pants are Satan’s crafty minions, you can refuse to sell them carnations from your Garden of Gethsemane Flower Shoppe. You probably cannot refuse to sell pastries and flowers to Asian or Jewish people, race, ethnicity, and religion being protected classes under federal law, but certainly you’d be on solid legal footing refusing if two sodomites ask you to cater the orgy following whatever Black Mass they’re holding to sanctify their unholy union, If sued, you need only say the Baby Jesus whispered in your ear.
Something to keep it mind, Indiana state law does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Prior to RFRA, it was completely legal under Indiana state law to hang a sign in your business’ window saying “We don’t serve fags!” No claim of divine involvement was required.
Governor Pence signed the bill into law flanked by the leader of almost every anti-gay hate group in Indiana. Big miles all around, I bet there were souvenir pens. Then, when the excrement hit the fan, he claimed the law wasn’t about discrimination and said he was seeking clarification. Wouldn’t the time to seek clarification to have been before making it the law of the land? When asked whether he thought LGBT Hoosiers should be protected from such laws he said the people of Indiana didn’t care about that. I guess some of them do. Either he really didn’t know what he was signing (read ‘incompetent’) or he knew exactly what he was signing but now wants to pretend otherwise (read ‘cowardly liar’). In the meantime, progressives despise him for signing such a thinly veiled discrimination law and his Tea-vangelical masters are furious for eliminating what was the intent of the law in the first place. I almost feel sorry for him. (I said ALMOST!).
So now there is a revised law clarifying that RFRA does not allow people to discriminate on the basis sexual orientation. Indiana law still does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation so a merchant can still refuse to serve LGBT people but, apparently, they can’t claim their refusal is based on their religious beliefs? How is that not a violation of the Tea-vangelical bigot’s freedom of speech? What a mess!
Wanda says it best.