Monday, March 30, 2015

Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Come Out of the Closet

     The Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Seriously? More like the Sexual Bigotry Free Card Act.
     By fall 2010, only five states had gay marriage. A little over four years later, so many states have it that it's hard to count and the answer depends on whom you ask (I think the latest number I saw was 37). During the Obama administration, DADT had fallen, rights and benefits were given to same sex federal employee couples and there are more gay people in elected office than at any time in US history.
     Anyone of even local notoriety or authority using anti gay slurs are often suspended, fired, pressured to resign or hounded out of office. As Barilla found out last year, any business not friendly to their LGBT customers (who have enormous spending power) or hostile to gay rights can expect to be pilloried and boycotted with the planet's lightning-fast social media. Even small businesses were shunned into oblivion once a refusal of services to gay customers was exposed by that same potent social media.
     The tide had turned, we thought, and it was safer than ever to come out of the closet. You have lots of friends and it really does get better.
    So it's difficult to understand what Indiana Governor and former Congressman Mike "I Haven't Had an Orgasm Since the Clinton Administration" Pence was thinking when he signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or what the Indiana legislature was thinking when they ratified it. To anyone with one eye and a handful of neurons, it's essentially a carte blanche to discriminate against gay people by pulling the religion card. It's a transparently sleazy right wing piece of shit disguised as "preserving" and "restoring" "religious freedom" already granted to all by the First Amendment. It blatantly gives right wing-owned businesses the legal means to refuse service to gay clientele or that perceived to be gay (but not, thankfully, protection against being boycotted and ridiculed all over the planet).
     When interviewed by George Stephanopolopolopolopolos Michael Dukakis, Jr last Sunday about the bill, he was asked point blank six simple yes or no questions as to whether or not the bill would make legal discrimination against LGBT people and he whiffed on every one of them. The very fact that Pence signed that steaming homophobic piece of shit into law behind closed doors speaks volumes. He knew it was either wrong or would be unpopular. And, as palpable as his typical right wing cowardice, his typical right wing dissembling on TV yesterday morning proved that he was trying to present this as a religious freedom bill that was nakedly designed by the Indiana legislature to drive gay people out of the state.
     Also, in typical right wing fashion, he blamed the media for the brouhaha over it, mansplainin' to the rubes that the bill was mistaken and misinterpreted, that the vast left wing conspiracy was making a mountain out of a molehill.
     The next state that might ratify a similar antigay bill is Arkansas and if by some miracle that festering buttocks sore of a state doesn't (which actually looks likely that it won't), 19 others currently have such laws on the books.
     About the closest Pence came to actually recognizing the extreme unpopularity of the new bill (besides signing it behind locked doors) was to pledge to ask the legislature to "clarify" the bill.
     No, that's not necessary. I think it's pretty clear what it means.
     The backlash was immediate and severe. The NCAA openly floated the idea that in the future, the Final Four would be held in a state other than Indiana. Angie's List, also headquartered in Indianapolis, quickly axed plans for an expansion that would have cost nearly $50,000,000. Notorious right winger Charles Barkley even condemned the new law. The NBA, WNBA and NFL have all made discontented grumbles of late. When all is told, Pence and the Republican-run state legislature could cost the state over $100,000,000 in boycotts.
     The law and its avowed intent should infuriate liberal Christians (Yes, there are some) for having their faith used as a straw man to discriminate against a minority. When cornered on the bill, Pence doubled down and said neither he or anyone would change it nor was it on his "agenda" to give "special protections" to the LGBT population of Indiana.
     It reminds me of that cartoon where a bunch of overweight Teabagger/NRA types are nailing Christ to the cross and one obese individual holding the hammer yells at Christ to stop whining because he's oppressing their religious liberty.
     But this craven right wing dissembling and dressing up this discrimination bill is an obvious attempt to throw red meat to the notoriously homophobic evangelical right wing, LBGT people providing the meat. But considering the vast strides taken by that same community on a national level, with intolerance of homophobia having long since reached alltime highs, it's perplexing to me why the Indiana legislature and Pence thought they would be immune to the backlash.
     It's just as perplexing why we're as surprised that homophobia does still exist as we are when faced with evidence of racism or misogyny or Islamophobia.
     As previously stated, other states are seriously considering similar, or worse, legislation (Although Georgia recently postponed its hearings on a similar measure). A gay presidential candidate would have as much chance getting elected as Pence being made a Grand Marshall of Indianapolis's next gay pride parade. Gay men and lesbians are still getting beaten, or worse, in the streets. And the "great" state of Texas has absolutely no laws protecting gays and lesbians from any discrimination at all (no, not even hate crime laws). Despite the impressive strides the Obama administration has taken in gay rights, DOMA, that other execrable evil from the Clinton years, is still more firmly embedded in the law books than fly shit.
     Right wingers pathetically try to turn it around back on my community and claim we're screaming for "special rights" as if we were rich scions suffering from Affluenza or a Wall Street bankster. But what they deliberately ignore is the fact that my peoples' struggle continues and will continue for at least decades to come because, if we're seeking "special protection", it's only because we're singled out for special persecution.

Addendum:If you've surfed in to read this, it's probably because of my good friend and Constant Reader Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors care of Crooks and Liars. In case you haven't already been made aware of it by Tengrain, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, others and myself, we'd just suffered a death in the family. Details can be found here but let's start by saying I've had to make a significant outlay of cash over the final days of March that put us behind the 8 ball. So anything you could do to push the wolves from the door another month would be tremendously appreciated.


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