Thursday, April 9, 2015

Anti-Gay "Religious Freedom" Arguments: A Collection of Recent Essays Deconstructing the False Memes

A collection of excerpts from recent essays engaging the arguments being pushed right now by anti-gay "religious freedom" activists like the U.S. Catholic bishops and their defenders in the Catholic media and academy: 

Rob Boston at Talk to Action on why the "religious liberty" bills are proliferating right now: 

In Indiana, it became imperative to pass a "religious freedom" law only after same-sex marriage became legal there in October of 2014. 
The backlash put a stop to it this time, but that doesn't mean we've seen the last of this issue. Far from it. Many observers believe the Supreme Court may be on the verge of extending same-sex marriage nationwide. Religious Right groups are determined to formulate a contingency plan. Right now, that plan takes the form of dressing up shabby forms of discrimination in the noble garment of religious liberty.
That will be the Religious Right's strategy for the foreseeable future. Despite the turn of events in Indiana, we haven't seen the last of it.

Albert R. Hunt in New York Times on why the anti-gay "religious freedom" crusade won't stop anytime soon:

"Gay rights won’t fade as a political issue. The Republican base won’t let it. 
Prominent Republicans calculated that if the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was constitutionally protected, the issue would become settled law and disappear politically. This would be welcome, they reasoned, as the party was on the wrong side of the politics and history. . . . 
Social conservatives are determined to keep this issue alive, reasoning that the environment that produced changes in the laws last week will become more favorable after they have had time to stir up the grass roots." 

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate on the curious juxtaposition of arguments that the gays are too powerful to need protection from discrimination, and arguments that states need laws permitting faith-based anti-gay discrimination:

Why does it matter that just as states defending marriage bans are attempting to argue that gays are powerful and wonderful and in no need of special constitutional solicitude, state after state is attempting to pass supersize laws allowing bakers, photographers, and pizza spinners to exclude them? This matters because it highlights the falsity behind the arguments made by those who support exclusion. These arguments may be made in good faith and from deep religious conviction, but they self-destruct on closer examination. Opponents of gay rights need to pick an argument, and it can’t be that gays and lesbians are so awesome that we have the right to exclude them.

Megan Hatcher-Mays at Media Matters on the false equivalence argument that sees refusal to sell a cake to a member of a minority group as equivalent to the refusal to sell a cake that has a hate message on it: 

Right-wing media have falsely suggested that the civil rights protections in Indiana's "religious freedom" bill force business owners to endorse messages that they share serious ideological disagreements with. But a recently-decided discrimination case in Colorado debunked this argument, differentiating between discrimination on the basis of ideology and discrimination on the basis of membership in a protected class.

The fairly straightforward issue here is that if you are refusing people service based on their identity, especially if they are fast becoming a protected class along the order of racial and ethnic and religious minorities, that it is a problem if you deny a gay couple the same service that you would provide to a straight couple. . . . Need more help? A black baker refusing to bake a cake for a white person because of centuries of discrimination? Not okay. A black baker refusing to bake a cake celebrating the KKK? Okay.

Sally Kohn at TPM on why the argument that "private" businesses should be allowed to whatever they want falls down when we look closely at who subvents those "private" businesses:

In the United States, private businesses get all kinds of government support—a functional monetary system, police that safeguard private property, roads that help deliver customers and goods, public schools that educate workers, telecommunications infrastructure, legal protections against copyright and patent infringement, tax benefits for business expenses and employee health care, legal shields for owners and more. No one is forcing businesses to take advantage of all those benefits, nor forcing you to start a business to begin with nor forcing you to do so in a state with non-discrimination laws or in the United States to begin with. 
Don’t like following the laws that apply to businesses—including serving all customers equally? Then don’t start a business. That’s your choice.

The Signe Wilkinson cartoon at the head of the posting is from Truthdig

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