Michelangelo Signorile continues to sound the alarm bell about the right-to-discriminate legislation in Arkansas, which is, he points out, citing none other than Tony Perkins, head of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council, intended to be a "roadmap" for similar legislation around the country. As Signorile keeps noting, the national business community and even political leaders one would expect to have spoken out about the Arkansas legislation (e.g., the Clintons) remain curiously silent about this legislation that directly targets LGBT citizens:
That's what the right does: Test something out, see what works, and move on to something else if it doesn't work. Last year, they sent up a trial balloon with a bill in Arizona that would have allowed businesses to turn away gays, and it bombed big time, as the national media and the business community came out against it. Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill. But LGBT activists deluded themselves if they thought that this meant we'd "won" the battle, which is part of the backlash to marriage equality. Arizona's bill got such resistance because the wording of the bill made it dangerous to all religious minorities. Suddenly it was not just about LGBT poeple -- who, yes, have much more support among the public than before -- but theoretically everyone.
So, that didn't fly, and the right moved on, and they've had -- and have -- a few other things in the works. The Arkansas bill -- which the anti-gay Family Research Council's Tony Perkins says is a "roadmap" for states across the country -- is much more stealthy, and much more wide-ranging and dangerous. GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson said he won't veto it and thus will let it become law next week. It bans cities, towns and counties in the state from enacting laws protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in housing, employment or public accommodation. But because it never mentions these groups -- it simply says no law shall protect a group not already protected under state law -- and presents itself as pro-business and trying to maintain consistencies for businesses throughout the state, it has traveled under the radar.
I continue to insist that it's that cynical, mendacious "pro-business" tag in this legislation that accounts for the ominous silence of the national business community and political leaders captive to the 1%. The national business community and the 1% actually want legislation like this — when states can get away with enacting such legislation while the business community pretends to be supportive of gay rights. Since this is all happening in little old nowhere Arkansas, why concern ourselves? Darkest Arkansas always behaves in this ignorant, bigoted way, after all.
The "liberal" pretense is that such things can't and won't happen in more enlightened places. But many of those fabricating that pretense actually like to see radical right-wing social experiments flourishing in places they can pretend to write off as hopelessly backwards. Since those social experiments keep the country as a whole moving inexorably rightward, while the silent "liberals" permitting and encouraging this movement don't have to live with the consequences of that movement in their own parts of the country . . . .
Which are enlightened . . . . Until the roadmap legislation suddenly makes its way to them . . . .