Very unusual days we're living in. Just 9 years ago in 2004, TurdBlossom Rove headed up an election year hate-a-thon by helping state Republicans place anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot in 12 states. The goal was to re-elect Commander Guy by attracting enough extreme-right evangelicals and other conservative religious voters to the polls to vote for god and against gays ....and while they were at it, cast a vote for The Decider.
Rove's strategy worked. Just 9 years ago, an organized effort of discrimination, hate and rejection of the Other helped in re-electing the worst president in modern American history.
Fast forward to today....Let me first say that what's happening right now in America......gay marriage, DOMA, Prop 8, GOP Senator Rob Portman, current national polling on gay marriage, centrist Senate Democrats coming out in support of gay marriage, etc....was inevitable. There never has been a legitimate legal argument to be found to justify the open and blatant discrimination of gay and lesbian Americans.
DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, both signed into law by a Democratic president, were abominations before the ink dried. Both were laws normalizing discrimination. DADT is now gone...and from all available evidence, DOMA could fall as early as June. California's Prop 8 will most likely be sent back for lack of standing by the plaintiffs....which means Prop 8 will also be history soon, the district court ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional becoming the final word.
All this is as it should be. However, what I have found most interesting is the expected, yet still surprising, reaction by the soon-to-be-on-the-wrong-side-of-history religious right. The evangelical and conservative Catholic right also see the legal handwriting on the wall ....and they're pre-emptively fighting back.
In Kentucky the state legislature has just overturned Governor Beshear's veto of HB279, a piece of legislation sponsored by a Democrat which basically legalizes acts of discrimination if those actions of discrimination are motivated by conscientiously held religious beliefs. No, I'm not kidding....the intent of HB279 is to...
Create a new section of KRS Chapter 446 to specify that government shall not burden a person's or religious organization's freedom of religion; protect the right to act or refuse to act on religious grounds; specify that government shall prove by clear and convincing evidence prove a compelling governmental interest in establishing a burden on the freedom of religion; specify what constitutes a burden.
Long and short of it. This is Kentucky's version of the 'conscientious pharmacist' flim-flam which ostensibly provides exceptions to public anti-discrimination laws. In any such exception, the religious conscience of an individual takes precedent over any anti-discrimination laws of the state. That's what "protect the right to act or refuse to act on religious grounds" means. If obeying a state law offends one's religious conscience, then a citizen is free to disobey that law.
Naturally, laws such as Kentucky's are untenable. Every citizen cannot be a law unto himself without breeding civil chaos. Let me explain....
The attractive, yet vile, Dana Loesch, CNN contributor, and redstate.com proprietor, Erick Erickson, former CNN contributor, both argued in the last couple of days that the normalization of gay marriage automatically translates into state persecution of Christians and Christianity. Loesch cites these two examples among others.....
1) Christian photographers Elane Photography in New Mexico were approached by a same sex couple looking to hire a wedding photographer. Elane Photography politely declined citing their Christian faith and were sued by the couple under the state’s anti-discriminatory laws, and won.
2) In Lexington, Kentucky, a t-shirt shop called Hands On Originals was approached by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization about printing shirts for the group. The t-shirt company politely declined and even sought out quotes and gave the group referrals to other t-shirt printers along with comparable prices. They were promptly sued by the group under Lexington’s anti-discriminatory laws and forced to comply with a lengthy investigation.
In both these instances, the business served the public. Whether it be printing tee-shirts or taking pictures.....these two businesses are not religious establishments by any stretch of the imagination....just as Hobby Lobby learned recently that they are not a recognized religious establishment.
If a Muslim or a black person sought to employ the services of these two businesses, the businesses would not be on sound legal footing if they refused to oblige service on the basis of an anti-Islamic or anti-black 'religious conscience.' The same will soon be true, if not true already, if the customer is gay or lesbian.
No, despite the victimology-screeds by Erickson and Loesch, Christian citizens are not being persecuted in any of this. What many religious folks have yet to comprehend is that business is separate and distinct from religion....and secular law makes that distinction. Business serves the public. Religion does not. Because that is the case, business owners who happen to be religious can either comply with anti-discriminatory laws they don't like, or.....get out of business.