After passing the Hate Bill, Indiana now realizes that it screwed up, but not out of morally mediated compunction, but because of the firestorm of excoriating comments, threatens of boycotts, real boycotts (e.g., Angie’s List is putting its Indiana expansion on hold), and even criticism from a basketball idol:
Former NBA star Charles Barkley added his voice to the debate.
“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” he said. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”
And make no mistake about it: this was intended to be anti-gay legislation, despite the lying denial by Indiana governor Mike Pence. It was prompted by the legalization of gay marriage in Indiana, and the lobbyists (see yesterday’s post) included some particularly vicious homophobes. Now legislators who favored the bill (damn Republicans, of course) see their mistake, and are backpedalling fast. According to Yahoo News:
Republican legislative leaders said they are working on adding language to the religious-objections law to make it clear that the measure does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. As signed by Pence last week, the measure prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.
“What we had hoped for with the bill was a message of inclusion, inclusion of all religious beliefs,” Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said. “What instead has come out is a message of exclusion, and that was not the intent.”
The efforts fell flat with Democrats, who called for a repeal, and even some Republicans.
“They’re scrambling to put a good face on a bad issue. What puzzles me is how this effort came to the top of the legislative agenda when clearly the business community doesn’t support it,” said Bill Oesterle, an aide to Republican former Gov. Mitch Daniels and CEO of consumer reporting agency Angie’s List, which canceled expansion plans in Indianapolis because of the law.
There are, for instance, tw**ts like this:
Sadly, that’s not quite accurate, for while it’s illegal to refuse blacks at places of public accommodation and service, it may now be legal in Indiana to refuse to serve gays on religious grounds (whether a restaurant can turn away gay customers has yet to be adjuciated). There are similar laws in 19 other states, although there’s variation in the degree to which companies or individuals must abide by them. Indiana’s law apparently has the broadest effects.
Designed to protect religious minorities from discrimination, “religious freedom laws” have in effect served to bolster the right of a majority faith, Christians, to discriminate against anyone deemed religiously offensive. How does “protecting religious freedom” become the right to impose one’s religious views on others? Does it really protect your religious freedom to prevent employees from getting medical contraceptive care?
Similar bills are pending in North Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia. The problem with all of these states is that they’re fighting a futile rearguard action against the tide of anti-discrimination and pro-gay-rights sentiment that is sweeping the U.S. If the Supreme Court says that gay marriage is legal (and, despite their conservatism, I think it will), then the game’s over. These Court may still allow discrimination of the Hobby Lobby form, but eventually that, too, will be overturned.
To see an acrimonious CNN interview on the new law, featuring Ryan McCann, the policy director of the anti-gay Indiana Family Institute, click on the screenshot below. The guy is a slippery homophobe, and is obviously lying:
Finally, on a lighter note, here’s a Google+ posts on the issue: