Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bigotry Continuing to Masquerade as "Religious Liberty" in Indiana: Governor Pence Meets the Press, Finds His Pants On Fire

The easy part is over. Americans now understand what the Indiana "Religious Freedom" law was intended to do: legalize discrimination by private businesses against homosexuals. It's not a secret, as Eric Miller of Advance America said. . . . 
The supporters of the Indiana law are more diverse, intellectually capable, and more widely found across America than we think. Nineteen states have such laws, and not just the Old Confederacy. Liberal Rhode Island has one. The Indiana Catholic Conference supported the law (It "is very important to secure its passage") (emphasis added).

[Pence told the IndyStar], "But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law." 
Good luck with that pal. I'd say the intent of the law was crystal clear. Georgia was about to pass the same thing and they decided it was a poison pill to insert language saying the law was not intended to discriminate.

One of the most irritating aspects of the campaign to legalize anti-gay discrimination in the guise of "religious liberty" is the fact that anti-gay activists are so snidely mendacious about their true aims. Legislators from Arizona to Indiana have openly conceded that the intent of their bills is to protect business owners, like florists and bakers, from having to serve gay couples. Yet the right-wing media continues to sneeringly insist that anyone who detects discriminatory intent behind "religious liberty" legislation is, in one writer's childish words, "a complete idiot."

Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to "clarify" that Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Amid the deepest crisis of his political career, Pence said repeatedly that the intense blowback against the new law is the result of a "misunderstanding driven by misinformation." 
He adamantly insisted that RFRA will not open the door to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians.

In one of the worst interview appearances in recent memory, Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence came across as defiant and evasive on ABC’s This Week with  George Stephanopoulos. When pressed on whether Indiana would allow discrimination against LGBT people, Pence looked like a deer caught in the headlights and ultimately punted.

Pence had said he was going to appear on the Sunday news show to "clarify the intent" of the law. Instead, he refused repeatedly to say if the law would greenlight discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation in the state.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) refused to say on Sunday whether it should be illegal under state law to discriminate against gays and lesbians. . . . In the interview, Pence dodged a question from George Stephanopoulos about whether the law would allow florists and bakers to deny their wedding services to gay couples by citing their religious beliefs. He also twice dodged a yes-or-no question on whether he believed it should be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians under state law.

Pence also greatly mischaracterized his state's RFRA, all but stating it is exactly like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It is not. He also wrongly suggested his law is similar to those of the other 19 states that have enacted RFRAs. It is not. 
Plainly put, the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act is greatly different from both the federal RFRA and the other state RFRAs, and Pence's suggestions to the contrary are misleading at best, intentionally factually false at worst. 

Provision of a legal way for some among us to choose to treat others with disdain and contempt is the worst possible use of the rule of law.

Once again: according to Richard Brodsky in Huffington Post (see the top of this posting), the Indiana Catholic Conference overtly promoted the anti-gay "religious freedom" bill, stating, that it "is very important to secure its passage." Compare and contrast the position taken by the Episcopal bishop of Indianapolis with the position taken by the organization representing all of Indiana's Catholic bishops, and ask yourself which religious body LGBT citizens and those who love them might prefer. And ask yourself once again why it is that Americans see the Catholic church as the most anti-gay religious group in the nation.

Catholics will have so much to be ashamed of when this period of history is over, a period in which some Christians seek to build their concept of Christian faith on the backs of LGBT human beings, and in which they seek to proclaim the gospel by demeaning and harming their LGBT brothers and sisters. And I'm speaking not just of Catholic leaders here, but of all those Catholics who stand by in silence and do nothing as these attacks on LGBT people take place, and all those Catholics who find it possible to stand on their heads and pretend that the bishops' "religious freedom" campaign has been all about protecting a religious liberty that is under attack in American society today. 

The George Stephanopoulos interview with Pence at the head of this posting is from Media Matters.

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