By William K. Black
Quito: April Fools’ Day 2015
April Fools’ Day continues to bring it delights, including a trifecta of homophobia I found on the website of the Wall Street Journal and other papers today. The WSJ news staff first reported on Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration” Act in a March 27, 2015 story in which CFOs reported their fear that the Act was “Hampering Hiring Ability.” The WSJ news sections recently cited the strong majority of Americans supporting marriage equality and the fact that support is growing quickly among conservatives.
The WSJ’s infamous editorial team was cranking up to send the opposite message. They support the oxymoronic “Defense of Marriage Act” (defending marriage from marriage) and oppose any constitutional rights protecting gay Americans from discrimination. The business community overwhelmingly opposes the new state hate acts adopted by the Indiana and Arkansas legislatures. The CEOs of America’s leading business thought leaders oppose the new state hate acts. The WSJ, on issues of hate, does not serve the interests of the business community. The title of the opinion piece is “The New Intolerance: Indiana isn’t targeting gays. Liberals are targeting religion.” The opinion piece doesn’t even try to support the claim that “liberals are targeting religion.” But the use of the word “liberals” shows how out of step the editorial zanies have become with American businesspeople on the issue of discrimination against gays. A majority of conservatives oppose discrimination against gays. Young conservatives are even more strongly opposed to discrimination against gays.
Indiana sponsors of the bill were openly targeting gays. Legislators tend to be older and if they are Republicans their only electoral threat is frequently from the extreme right of their own party in the nomination struggle. There is, therefore, a period that will likely last another decade in which states in which the Republicans hold all the power that legislators will be tempted to propose and vote for these laws designed to signal hate for gays. But the business community as a whole has already figured this issue out, which is why it has responded so promptly and vigorously. The WSJ editorial, for the reasons obvious in its title, does not even mention this response from the business community. The business community response demonstrates that opposition to discrimination isn’t a “liberal” issue and that business people know the truth – the bills are designed to discriminate against gays. Those gays are somebody’s valued employees, and major business leaders have figured out that they better side with their employees and customers, who overwhelmingly (and increasingly) are disgusted by discrimination against gays.
Oh, and the answer to the WSJ’s question is that it’s the same ancient intolerance against gays that leads to discrimination and the passage of the new state hate acts. It is sad that the WSJ even at this late date chooses hate. The citizens that the bills’ sponsors want merchants to be able to deny service to are gay Americans. There is nothing new about that form of intolerance. The WSJ’s attempt to define anyone who opposes discrimination against gays as “intolerant” reveals their inability to find any justifiable basis for discriminating against gays.
Its like the Republicans don’t really want to win the White House (although Jeb Bush appears to be backing down from his swinging endorsement of the Indiana law).
See! I told you not to let Rupert Murdoch in here!
It’s always strange to witness efforts to define who is legally protected from hate. Discrimination should be prohibited, period. Everyone should be a protected “class,” or else the wrangling over who has rights versus who doesn’t… goes on forever.
Ever since the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court used the RFRA of 1993 to allow the plaintiffs to have insurance policies that did not cover certain forms of post-coital birth control (like Plan B), I have thought that the liberal negative reaction to this did not see that this law applied to everyone’s religious beliefs, and the government had to find an implementation of it that minimally impacted everyone’s religious beliefs.
The problem is that many liberals are not self-described as religious, but believing there is no God, or believing that Leviticus and Moses in the Old Testament was just some primitive desert tribes’ code of
masculine purity, which can be ignored today, are still religious beliefs. So is the Buddha’s non-theistic religion, or Zen Buddhism, or humanism, or even some Protestant religions whose theologians do not believe God exists because to do so is the first step toward atheism (Paul Tillich, United Church of Christ). So, if we allow certain fundamentalist sect’s the rights to infringe the rights of their customers when they are engaged in public commerce by denying service, those customers need to assert their religious rights not to have such treatment. The Federal statute suggests that the government is required to find that implementation of whatever program it asserts that minimally infringes on various religious beliefs, meaning it has to take a neutral stand and find a proper balance of everyone’s asserted rights.
If you do not accept the books of Moses and Leviticus as governing your life today, that is a religious (un)belief. You just don’t believe in your religious practice what someone does in their practice.
You should be able to get service in a public market from any vendor without his/her attempts to deny you service because you are not practicing what he/she believes THEY should. Note, when a gay person goes to a baker and asks for a cake to be used in a wedding between two gay persons, they are not asking that person to commit a homosexual act; they just want a cake with “Jerry and Bill” on it. The vendor does not have to approve of Jerry and Bill getting married in making the cake. He can say so. But that should be the end of it as far as government intervention is concerned. Government intervention has to consider protecting Jerry and Bill from discrimination in the public marketplace. A person should not be permitted public license to sell his wares and services to the public in general but exclude some of the public on religious grounds. Jerry and Bill have RFRA rights too. First thing you know thousands of people will stop buying from him/her because they will have nothing to do with, say, “Baptists”. A
wholesale supplier of sugar and flour will stop selling goods to the baker, because the supplier is a Buddhist and does not believe in supporting Baptists and their practices.
We don’t need any of that.
As long as you practice your religion in a way that does not infringe upon the rights of others to go about their living according to their beliefs, then government should protect your right to do that. That’s all.
That’s what it has been all along.