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Fear Factor

Note: The following was posted on my blog “A Clockwork Pastor” on Friday.  That blog is a religious blog, so there will be some religious references in this post.

Like a lot of folk I’ve been interested in the goings on in Indiana. As you know, the state legislature passed and the Governor signed a law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Depending on who you talk to, the law is no different from the federal version of the law passed in 1993 or will allow religious owners of businesses to refuse service to gays. I’m frankly a bit confused as to what the bill will actually do. Proponents see it as a bulwark against a radically changing culture. Opponents see it as the second coming of Jim Crow.

As I was discussing this with a Methodist minister, he used a word that seemed to describe the whole situation: fear. It’s not a surprise that I tend to think the proponents of the law are fearful of a changing culture, one where homosexuality is becoming accepted and where their views, which once ruled the culture are no longer in vogue. But I also think my side of the debate is also operating on fear and distrust. Like a lot of oppressed groups, it is hard to have any concern for your former oppressors. As I’ve read responses, the attitude seems to be “let the bigots hang.”

What is interesting about all of this is how much this seems to have become a zero-sum game. Religious conservatives seem intent on gumming up the works of progress on same-sex marriage. Gays and liberals seem to not want to give religious conservatives any inch on religious practice. Both sides seem to think that to win, one side must lose.

David Brooks wrote a couple of weeks ago that we live in a more uncertain age and that has changed the tone of politics. Gone are win-win situations where compromise was possible, and coming in its place is the quest for power. Here’s what Brooks says:

National elections take place within a specific global moment. In the 1990s, there was a presumption that we were living in an age of rapid progress. Democracy was spreading. Tyranny was receding. Asia was booming. The European Union was building. Conflict in the Middle East was lessening. The world was cumulatively heading toward greater pluralism, individualism, prosperity and freedom.

Today it’s harder to have faith in rapid progress. Democracy is receding. Autocrats like Vladimir Putin of Russia are marching. The European project is decaying. Economies are struggling. Reactionary forces like the Islamic State and Iran are winning. The Middle East is deteriorating.

In this climate, the tone and focus of politics change. Politics is less about win-win situations and more about zero-sum situations. It is less about reforms that will improve all lives and more about unadorned struggles for power. Who will control the ground in places like Ukraine and Syria? Will Iran get the bomb? Will the White House or Congress grab power over treaties and immigration policy?

It’s hard not to see the fight that is taking place in Indiana and many other places as tribal battles. Religious conservatives feel under fire as liberals go after bakers and wedding photographers.

This clash of rights, between the right to marry and the right to religious freedom has always been difficult for me. I have fought for the right to be able to marry my husband Daniel and to have that recognized by the state, which is what happened when we had our legal marriage in 2013. But as a Christian, I also think people should be able to follow the dictates of their faith without interference from the state. So on some level, I’ve never been as bothered by bakers not wanting to bake my wedding cake. I just thought I’d go to another baker. The baker had the right to refuse service, and I had the right to not go to that baker and tell others not to go either.

I know that it bothers some of my compatriots that I might sympathize with folks who don’t think I should get married to my partner. But two things have guided me on this issue: my belief in Jesus dictum to love our enemies and my libertarian belief in liberty; that I can do what I want and you can do what you want so long as my rights aren’t curtailed.

Loving my enemy means that I have to look at that person as human being. I have to at least try to understand their viewpoint and give them the space to do what they see as right, so long as I am not profoundly impacted.

Of course, my enemy should be able to look at me as a human being, a child of God and give me the space to do what I think is right. (Translation: If religious conservatives want to be treated with respect, treat those you disagree with the same respect.)

As the various RFRA laws come up in various states, both religious conservatives and LGBT communities have to find a way to make room for each other. Not because they like each other. Not because they agree. But because for a democratic society to flourish, we have to find ways to accomodate the Other. Because we must heed the call to love and respect our enemies.

Before all of the focus was on Indiana, some media attention was given to what was happening in Utah. Dubbed the “Utah Compromise,” gay rights groups and the Mormon Church came together to support legislation the protected LGBT persons and also offered exemptions on religious grounds. It is far from a perfect law (but what compromise is perfect). But this seemed to be a place where the culture wars made a truce. A Wall Street Journal column explains how the Mormon Church, who not that long ago was bankrolling the effort to ban same-sex marriage in California, reached out the LGBT community:

The Mormon leadership reached out to the LGBT community, which was willing to reciprocate despite initial doubts. Although there were roadblocks early on, trust gradually developed. Neither side allowed the best to become the enemy of the good. Both came to see that protections for LGBT individuals and for religious conscience needed to be enacted simultaneously, as a package.

There is a lesson here for both sides. For religious conservatives, it is to at least acknowledge LGBT persons. You don’t have to approve of what we do. But you do have to at least see us as persons created by God and deserving of respect.

For the LGBT community and our allies, it means respecting the faith of religious conservatives. Within reason, no one should have to compromise their faith to live in the wider society. We need to honor their consciences even if we think that their beliefs are wrong.

In late 2010, libertarian writer Jonathan Rauch wrote about how the tide was turning in the favor of those of us who support gay rights. Because we were no longer on the defensive, our tactics must change. He wrote:

…we—gay Americans and our straight allies—have won the central argument for gay rights. As a result, we must change. Much of what the gay rights movement has taken for granted until now, and much that has worked for us in the past, is now wrong and will hurt us. The turn we now need to execute will be the hardest maneuver the movement has ever had to make, because it will require us to deliberately leave room for homophobia in American society. We need to allow some discrimination and relinquish the “zero tolerance” mind-set. Paradoxical but true: We need to give our opponents the time and space they need to let us win.

Not giving them that room to deal with the changed landscape has its consequences:

…gay rights opponents have been quick, in fact quicker than our side, to understand that the dynamic is changing. They can see the moral foundations of their aversion to homosexuality crumbling beneath them. Their only hope is to turn the tables by claiming they, not gays, are the real victims of oppression. Seeing that we have moved the “moral deviant” shoe onto their foot, they are going to move the “civil rights violator” shoe onto ours.

So they have developed a narrative that goes like this:

Gay rights advocates don’t just want legal equality. They want to brand anyone who disagrees with them, on marriage or anything else, as the equivalent of a modern-day segregationist. If you think homosexuality is immoral or changeable, they want to send you to be reeducated, take away your license to practice counseling, or kick your evangelical student group off campus. If you object to facilitating same-sex weddings or placing adoptees with same-sex couples, they’ll slap you with a fine for discrimination, take away your nonprofit status, or force you to choose between your job and your conscience. If you so much as disagree with them, they call you a bigot and a hater.

They won’t stop until they stigmatize your core religious teachings as bigoted, ban your religious practices as discriminatory, and drive millions of religious Americans right out of the public square. But their target is broader than just religion. Their policy is one of zero tolerance for those who disagree with them, and they will use the law to enforce it.

At bottom, they are not interested in sharing the country. They want to wipe us out.

Of course, this is exactly what religious conservatives are doing now. So maybe the best way to defeat this kind of thinking is by not trying to shut them up, but by acting differently. Maybe if we show that we will give them the respect they never gave us, maybe things could change for the better.

I don’t know what will happen in Indiana. I do know I can do something to hopefully lessen the fear and increase the peace.

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

More: Journalist Issac Bailey has some questions about the Indiana law. Libertarian writer Jonathan Rauch explains the grand compromise on gay and religious rights in Utah. Finally, Stephen Miller of the Independent Gay Forum has this to say about the change in consensus in the LGBT communnity concerning religious liberties: “In the decades before 2013, exempting religious organizations from LGBT anti-discrimination statutes was a consensus position. Now, on the federal level, it’s anathema for many national LGBT rights advocates. ”

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271 thoughts on “Fear Factor

  1. Dennis,

    I completely get what you’re saying. I know the path to good policy involves understanding the concerns and fears of opponents as well as allies. However, while I understand the necessity of talking about these fears on both sides, I’m not sure why you say “Gays and liberals seem to not want to give religious conservatives any inch on religious practice.”

    On most levels, I really don’t care what religious conservatives do in terms of their religious practice. But the attempt to turn any public interaction or economic exchange into “religious practice” seems like refusing to obey the law.

    How is a pediatrician turning away the child of lesbian parents “religious practice”? How is a restaurant refusing service to anyone who appears gay “religious practice”? Will forcing trans schoolchildren into “biological/born sex restrooms” become “religious practice”?

    You make it seem like it is somehow optional for lgbt folks to steadfastly defend their hard-won rights. As if rolling over on wedding cakes has no consequence other than minor inconvenience. If we allow a precedence for a wedding cake exception, can we then prevent a taxi cab exception? What about an employment exception? Should we let religious corporations (what hath the Supreme Court wrought?) ignore the marriages of some of their employees in terms of benefits?

    Following Loving v. Virginia, should we have allowed southern officials a defacto veto over interracial marriage by allowing them not to recognize such marriages?

    I don’t require or demand religious conservatives approve of me. I don’t demand that any church bless me or marry me. But it doesn’t seem reasonable that some people can simply opt out of laws they decide they don’t care for.

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    • Zane,

      I’m not saying that religious conservatives should be able to refuse patients or things like that. What I was trying to get at is that religious conservatives fear having to do something that goes against their faith. The Utah compromise gave some protections to religious liberties that had nothing to do with not providing services and it passed. THAT’s what I am getting at. We might think their belief that their faith is being jepordized is silly, but I think we can give them something that doesn’t harm LGBT rights and gives them something.

      The thing is, religious conservatives don’t feel they are free to worship. We have to focus on that concern instead of dismissing it because while it may not be real to us it is to them, and until that is dealt with, we will find ourselves in these fights. Again, we don’t do this and sacrifice rights. But we need to take their concerns and give them something that makes them think they are part of the solution and not the problem.

      Of course, all of this hangs on how they are willing to treat us as well.

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      • “The thing is, religious conservatives don’t feel they are free to worship.”

        And I think here is part of the problem. In what way do religious conservatives feel they are not free to worship? They can attend any church they like, they can believe what they choose.

        I’d argue that religious conservatives want to define “freedom to worship” to mean “freedom to ignore social and legal strictures that we don’t like, in any social sphere, under any conditions, so long as we state a religious basis, and so long as the freedom to do so is limited to Christians as defined by us.”

        So how do religious conservatives define “freedom of worship”?

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      • “The thing is, religious conservatives don’t feel they are free to worship.”

        As Zane points out, here’s the rub. Are we talking about rights or about feelings? If the latter, then there is little anyone outside the conservative epistemological closure bubble can do about it, so why try?

        In any discussion of the Indiana law it is productive to first read The Atlantic’s piece on how it differs from other, ostensibly similar laws:
        http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/what-makes-indianas-religious-freedom-law-different/388997/#disqus_thread

        It ain’t pretty, and much that has been said in its defense is at best uninformed and at worst given in bad faith.

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      • “I’m not saying that religious conservatives should be able to refuse patients or things like that.”

        Yes, you are. That’s the whole point of these laws.

        In fact, the whole point of these laws is to also allow government officials to use government powers to discriminate.

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      • @Barry: “That’s the whole point of these laws.”

        The devil is in the details. Many of the other states’ superficially similar laws serve good purpose. In this one, the drafters slipped in a few zingers. The superficial similarity to other, beneficial laws serves to obfuscate the issues.

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    • “Following Loving v. Virginia, should we have allowed southern officials a defacto veto over interracial marriage by allowing them not to recognize such marriages?” should read “…by allowing them to not register such marriages?”

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    • It’s really cool how people get to advance all sorts of horrible scenarios for what those icky religious conservatives are going to do, but when someone says “hey, here’s a thing that religious conservatives are worried might happen” we’re told that nobody is talking about that and nobody is trying that anywhere and that it would never happen and it’s stupid to even talk about that.

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      • Really, the issue is mostly that of common sense and decency, things in short supply in modern America.
        Simply asking “Um, can you get someone else to do it?” upfront and personal like, and not being a gigantic judgemental ass, and most people will just go somewhere else.

        Likewise, one is able to withhold service from a customer for No Reason Whatsoever. Declining to give a reason is perfectly fine, folks.

        Voila, both sides can win! So long as they keep their opinions to themselves.

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      • OK, point to someone with more status that “anonymous web commenter” who’s talking about forcing churches to perform same-sex marriages.

        What, you can’t? Then saying “Nobody’s talking about it” is accurate.

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      • On the other hand, when you discuss things that have been done in the name of religion, in this country, well within the lifetimes of people reading this very comment, you have:

        * The creation of private schools purely to avoid integration. They were often called “Christian schools”
        * Many state ballot measures to reduce or even eliminate gay rights.
        * Organized campaigns to forbid the building of mosques

        Which makes “All we want is to practice our religion in peace” sound a bit disingenuous.

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      • It’s worth mentioning that, even if people were talking about it, that scenario would actually be unconstitutional regardless of whether there was a RFRA. There’s something called the “ministerial exception” to discrimination laws that would apply. I wrote about this a few thousand years ago: http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/blog/2010/12/14/repost-same-sex-marriage-and-the-religious-liberty-red-herring

        That said, I’m still trying to figure out where I stand on Indiana’s RFRA. It’s pretty likelythat a lot of the worst claims about it would not come to fruition (even if most of the people who voted for it want that to happen). But the media coverage has been so consistently awful that I haven’t been able to figure out whether some of the other, more specific and less drastic, assertions about the law would come to fruition.

        In other words, it seems pretty unlikely to me that it would blanket legalize discrimination, even if that’s what the legislator’s wanted it to do. Whether it might legalize discrimination in specific hypothetical cases is something I need to do some research on, but haven’t had the chance to do yet. My guess is that even then, though, it’s fairly unlikely – it’s worth mentioning that New Mexico had a RFRA at the time of the Elane Photography case.

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      • “when you discuss things that have been done in the name of religion, in this country,”

        When you come up with some actual situations, in Indiana, recently, instead of hypothetical awful things that might happen, then I’ll assume that there’s a problem.

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      • “‘when you discuss things that have been done in the name of religion, in this country,’

        When you come up with some actual situations, in Indiana, recently, instead of hypothetical awful things that might happen, then I’ll assume that there’s a problem.”

        I’d actually argue the shoe is on the other foot, actually. Isn’t the law in question intended to protect religious people? It would seem the burden of proof is on the advocate of the law to provide evidence it is needed. So, instances of people having their freedom of worship infringed, in Indiana, and recently, that this law would remedy? And some discussion of *how* the law would remedy those incidents?

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  2. One big difference between European and American conservatives is that the former gave up the ghost on the trying to push back against the social changes of the 1960s while the latter did not. European conservatives didn’t like all the wild cultural changes that happened in the 1960s anymore than their American cousins did. Even without the Vietnam War and civil rights to fuel things up, there was still a pretty big cultural change that happened across the Western world during the 1960s that the old guard did not like at all. Things like feminism, abortion rights, rock music, drugs and the Sexual Revolution were distressing on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The thing is that after the changes occured, most European social conservatives seem to have realized that you can not undo the changes and they were hear for good. Thats one reason why European conservative parties had a much easier time accepting LGBT rights. American social conservatives never real gave up the ghost. A substantial portion of them continued to fight to restore the pre-1960s ways of doing it. They thought they could get rid of women’s lib, pro-choice policies, and the Sexual Revolution if they just worked hard enough to do so. That is why the Republicans and many American conservatives are really struggling with LGBT rights, it represents a continuation of the 1960s social changes and that is what they hate.

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    • Lee – Always be careful about associating the American and European conservative. Different traditions, different agendas. (There’s a horribly boring decades-long conversation about defining the words “conservative” and “liberal”. Utterly tedious. This is about the only place where it has relevance. The terms just have different meanings once you cross the ocean.)

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  3. “Gays and liberals seem to not want to give religious conservatives any inch on religious practice.”

    I don’t think this is really true. Despite the hyperbole from the right, very few people are seriously talking about making private religious institutions host gay marriage ceremonies that they don’t want to host. No one is seriously pushing for a law that requires the Catholics or Southern Baptists to hold gay marriage ceremonies.

    I am with Zane though. A pediatrician turning away a lesbian couple is just as bad as a pediatrician that would turn a way an interracial couple, or a non-Christian couple. Would we accept a pediatrician saying “I don’t think I can help you because you a dirty Papist” or “I can’t give my aide and services to Jews/Buddhists/Hindus/Muslims because they reject Jesus as their personal savior.” No we would not. I don’t see why there should be an exception for LGBT couples. Non-discrimination laws demand that if you are running a business you cannot discriminate because you find a customer icky or have prejudiced views on their background.

    If someone is a government clerk or judge and is opposed to same-sex marriage, they can quit their job. There is no right to an accommodation.

    And based on the way SSM and homophobia have been very successful wedge issues and just bashing issues for conservatives in general, I don’t see why LGBT and SSM allies shouldn’t be suspicious.

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    • It depends on what you are talking about. Having read conservative blogs, there is talk about cases like an Atlanta official that was fired for a tweet where he expressed his religious understanding of homosexuality. Or the guy from Mozilla that was let go for giving money in favor of Prop 8 even though he was for other gay rights.

      I’m not saying that people should be able to discriminate. But there are some legitimate issues that need to be addressed. That means coming together and devising a plan as they did in Utah, because if we just dismiss them as we have, we will have more Indianas in the future.

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      • The phrase, “more Indianas in the future,” can be taken in a number of ways.

        Honestly, when I first read about that, my very first thought was, “Now there’s a good business opportunity!” Curse me as a capitalist if you wish, but I think catering to the LGBT community, and being able to guarantee a non-hostile environment, is worth at least a 5% premium.

        As a former member of a trade union with a reputation for pissing people off, I have walked into places where members of opposing trades congregate, and felt very uncomfortable.
        I know I can’t convince them. It’s the Clash all over again.

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      • Two different cases cited: The Atlanta official might fall under government and free speech depending if he used a personal or official twitter account. The case of Mozilla was a private company and the law would actually protect the company, as it is free to take the position that such an attitude is harmful to its business.

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      • “Having read conservative blogs, there is talk about cases like an Atlanta official that was fired for a tweet where he expressed his religious understanding of homosexuality.” Are you referring to Kelvin Cochran, Atlanta’s former fire chief? Who wrote a book saying that homosexuality was equivalent to pederasty and bestiality? Who then distributed that book to a number of city employees?

        “Or the guy from Mozilla that was let go for giving money in favor of Prop 8 even though he was for other gay rights.” Brendan Eich stepped down voluntarily in face of massive controversy. We can debate whether controversy should be a reason for a CEO to leave a position (I think it’s pretty problematic, personally), but it’s not like Mozilla showed animosity toward him–he had been promoted from within.

        I think there are fears on the part of many conservative Christians, but I’d also argue that most of those fears are stoked by an active, activist right-wing press that actively encourages fear and panic (and often freely distorts what actually happened).

        I’m not sure why a group of people who have learned to demonize lgbt people would interpret any words or actions on the part of lgbt-folk in any way positively. Remember, we’re not just political opponents or people with differing opinions. We are the willing tools of Satan, the Deceiver and the Adversary.

        I’m not sure what I could do or say, as a gay man, that would in any way address the fears of conservative Christians. My mere public existence would reinforce such fears. I’m also not sure why it is my job to baby along those who would like me to disappear from the planet.

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      • I’m not sure why a group of people who have learned to demonize lgbt people would interpret any words or actions on the part of lgbt-folk in any way positively. Remember, we’re not just political opponents or people with differing opinions. We are the willing tools of Satan, the Deceiver and the Adversary.

        I’m not sure what I could do or say, as a gay man, that would in any way address the fears of conservative Christians. My mere public existence would reinforce such fears. I’m also not sure why it is my job to baby along those who would like me to disappear from the planet.

        This.

        There, indeed, is a certain reluctance on the part of pro-rights people to be willing to accommodate *any* level of discrimination, even forms of discrimination society probably doesn’t need to worry about legally, which societal pressure will quickly fix. That might actually be something to think about. Whatever. I’ve argued that, at this point, requiring businesses that will not serve gays make it an official posted policy, and mention it in their ads, would be enough. We’d get a few businesses do that, and suddenly, they lose 75% of their customers under 35 while gaining 5% random old cracks and some bigots that also think they’ll be fine with open racism (1)…and there’s a rather rapid reversal.

        But that inflexibility is *nothing* compared to the other side, which has refused to cede a single solitary inch, at any point, along with constantly demonizing the other side. (The Mormon church being a rather interesting exception.)

        On the unreasonableness scale of 1-10, the pro-rights side scores a 1 in actions and a 3 in rhetoric, and the anti-gay side scores 8 in actions and a 15 in rhetoric.

        The anti-gay side is also the side that *keeps fighting* already lost battles, a decade after the war was lost. They *keep people in the wrong place*. It’s like, in 1978, there was a group of people insisting that discrimination was a good thing. In public. An organized force. Demanding the right to teach kids that.

        It’s like someone took notes on the civil rights era to figure out how to effectively fight it the next time, and the first rule was: Get out in front of it and make an organized bloc that constantly pushes back against the entire premise. So they did that as fast as possible.

        Pro-gay-rights people are not unreasonable in demand that bloc go away before ceding *anything*. And, yes, that bloc, being made up of free speech, has a right to exist…but, then again, pro-gay-rights people have a right not to cede any ground, either.

        1) Seriously. You can just imagine somewhat reasonable middle-aged woman putting up a legally required ‘We reserve the right to refuse service based on sexual orientation’ sign at her cafe under the idea she can stop gay couples from kissing, which happened once and shocked her…and being rather amazed as to what sort of young people are now attracted to the place, and the sort of words they use. And how *other customers* now think it’s their business to police the customers for signs of ‘gayness’. And that old racist guy that constantly makes a nuisance of himself by calling people racial slurs has started eating there. You hang up signs indicating that somewhere is a safe place for bigotry, you’ll be *amazed* at the sort of asshats you’ll attract.

        All that, combined with the drop off in attendance in general, will almost certainly make her change her mind.

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    • ” very few people are seriously talking about making private religious institutions host gay marriage ceremonies that they don’t want to host.”

      o rly?

      (when crafting your reply, keep in mind that restricting someone’s actions as a condition of their exercising religious belief is directly contra the First Amendment.)

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      • Please note that in the case of Hitching Post there was no gay person on the other side going after the Chapel owners. The Knapp’s essentially went to the city and said “according to the law as it now is would you force us to let gays marry here” and the city said “Probably would have to” and the Knapps sued. Then later both the city and the ACLU on further examination observed that since the Chapel offers only religious services (and not secular or nonaffiliated ones) they would be considered religious and not covered by the antidiscrimination law.

        So basically this was some Chapel owners punching themselves and shrieking about teh gayz coming for them. Color me underwhelmed.

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      • If that is the best you can come up with, I would take this as a resounding affirmation of religious liberty in the US. Inasmuch as your parenthetical makes any sense in relation to the linked article, you seem to be arguing that only applying religious libery to religion is an infringement of religious liberty. Or something. I wonder if you didn’t google on “wedding chapel” and “ACLU” and not bother to actually read what resulted.

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  4. I used to think it was very strange that a hard core Reagan fanboi like me, somehow found myself on the far left end of the political spectrum.
    Until I saw how economic conservatives were fond of calling themselves “classical liberals”, and quoting Locke and Rousseau, in the praise of the individual versus the community.

    When I look around the liberal landscape today, I don’t see anyone championing the individual over the collective.
    Our biggest victory of same sex marriage, was a drive to uphold and join the cultural institution of the group, the tribe, of belonging and shared commitment.
    The economic message of liberalism today is one of community norms and obligations, not individual initiative.
    The battle over climate change is a message of caution and conservation and prudence, versus a battle of “let tomorrow take care of itself” heedless abandon.
    Everywhere I look, I see the left side of the aisle stressing incremental change, and upholding traditional time tested solutions (like Social Security).

    What seems particularly distressing to conservatives is that they have lost not the battle for an issue to the liberals; they have lost the war for the mantle of the very concept of conservatism.
    I think this is why they seem so fixated on the label and tribal totems of conservatism(when was the last time you heard anyone describe themselves as a “severe liberal”?).

    The battle over SSM is going very much the way the battle over civil rights went- there is a large group of people who are peeling away to join the winning side. Then there is a smaller rump faction that is growing ever more isolated and inflexible.

    Conservatives of all people should grasp the concept that some moral norms of society must be enforced, and while we can make accommodations as best we can, there will always be some beliefs that are so distant from the majority, that we are unable to accommodate them.

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    • This is a pretty good summation of why I self-identify as neither a conservative nor a progressive (ie contemporary liberalism).

      Also, I don’t think that you have a very good grasp of the classical liberal position, which is most certainly not “in praise of the individual versus the community.”

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      • Well, perhaps that’s true but if so it’s only because libertarians as well as some self-styled conservatives are constantly parroting that line and, to be perfectly honest, most of us haven’t actually studied enough Enlightenment philosophy to know one way or the other.

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      • Road Scholar is correct- I haven’t studied enough Enlightenment history to know first hand. I got the “classical liberal” concept from conservatives and libertarians- including some right here on this blog.

        If the word “liberal” didn’t originally mean the expansion of the individual rights I am happy to be educated.

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      • (
        If the word “liberal” didn’t originally mean the expansion of the individual rights I am happy to be educated.

        Keeping in mind that another commenter referred to this problem as “horribly boring” and “utterly tedious,” I’ll be brief: The assertion of individual rights, or the rights of a “universal” individual, understood as political-economic rights underlying the the legitimacy of any government, is certainly one major and arguably defining element of what some call “classical liberalism,” although I think the latter term is either a misnomer or simply confusing – since both of its parts (along with “modern,” “conservative,” and others that will will come up) will mean different or even very different, yet still overlapping things in differing contexts. Since the connection of this discussion to the subject of the OP may seem obscure, I’ll leave it at that.)

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    • What seems particularly distressing to conservatives is that they have lost not the battle for an issue to the liberals; they have lost the war for the mantle of the very concept of conservatism.

      I think you’ve managed to explain something I’ve tried to articulate a lot here, and rather poorly.

      Namely, I can’t actually figure out what conservatives are supposed to be conserving, or even what they’re supposed have as a philosophy besides ‘less government’, which is, in fact, a complete lie.

      Here is an actual conservative treatment of gay people:
      ‘Well, we know marriage in general works, so let’s encourage them to get married. And our existing civil right laws seem to work okay, so let’s put them under that, with of course the same exception for religions. We do have a slight reservation about children raised within gay couples, so let’s hold back on adoption for now, there are plenty of non-adopted children that end up being raised by gay couples we can check back on in ten years or so.’

      …that would be ‘conservative’. Carefully and slowly extending existing social structures to cover a new group of people. Done in *the mid 90s*. Failure to do this has resulted in at least two things.

      It has almost certainly weakened marriage, giving rise to the term ‘partner’, which is now used by heterosexual couples in long-term relationships *instead of actually getting married*. Good work breaking marriage, guys. All you had to do was unfairly deny it to a group of people for two decades, and everyone got used to having to *work around* that denial.

      Likewise, constantly pushing back on civil rights law has, uh, reminded everyone of a few things you’d probably rather have had them forget, and has probably lost you yet another group of people *forever*.

      But, hey, this hate *did* manage to get Bush reelected so…yay?

      I think this is why they seem so fixated on the label and tribal totems of conservatism(when was the last time you heard anyone describe themselves as a “severe liberal”?).

      And they’re *weird* labels and totems, ones that *just happened* to exist in mid-90s. And the conservative pundit-ocracy that arose at the time, and the internet that arose shortly after, won’t ever let anyone forget or change them.

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      • They are conserving a gauzy, rose colored vision of The Way Things Were back in some often unspecfied time but usually corresponding with when they were kids.

        Back when men were men and women women ( and of course the old people spent all their time complaining about how kids just aren’t right these days and everything was better back when they were kids)

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      • Part of my identifying the “classical liberal” tag with individualism is that during my lifetime, that was a completely correct one.
        Notice how in the 60’s and 70’s, when the New Left was a force, the main identifier for the liberals was individual freedom.- freedom of sexuality, drug use, fashion and culture. They attacked almost all things that were identified as “traditional” (whether they actually were or not is irrelevant).

        These are the liberals that people like Pat Buchanan are still at war with.
        Unfortunately for Pat, and most of the cultural right, these liberals went the way of bell bottoms and patchouli.

        Currently it is the political right that emphasizes individual freedom. Its to the point where if you see a blog, magazine, article, or book with the words “Liberty” or “Freedom” its almost certain to be right leaning.

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      • They are conserving a gauzy, rose colored vision of The Way Things Were back in some often unspecfied time but usually corresponding with when they were kids.

        Bull. Logically the best way to get the damn gay rights parade out of their suburbs would be to just let the gay couple *get married and live in the picket-fenced house next door*. Same as with the black couple. That is a ‘conservative’ position.

        Republicans: “Hey, remember when everything was great, and we all had good jobs and houses in the suburbs, and all the men mowed their lawn in sync every Saturday morning, and everyone was happy? Let’s do that again.’

        Black people: “We do not actually remember that…but did you just suggest we all should have houses in the suburbs and good jobs? Hell, count us in.”

        That, right there, would be a ‘a gauzy, rose colored vision of The Way Things Were’. It’s the 50s, and everyone’s invited.

        That *is not* what conservatives are actually pushing for, though. It’s a lie. It’s code. Like I said, if they were pushing for that, they would have *pushed for gay marriage*. Logically, the conservative position would have been shoving homosexuality into some existing framework. (Admittedly, this framework would have perhaps assuming some sort of gender-role assumptions within it, the whole ‘Which of you is the man and which is the woman?’ nonsense. I’m not saying it would have been ideal, just that it’s not what they did.)

        I’m reminded of remake of The Stepford Wives, where there’s a gay couple, and you sorta wonder if that’s going to become an issue…nope. Turns out a gay man can be brainwashed into being a stay-at-home wife that exists solely to support his husband’s career as well as anyone else.

        But that wasn’t what they pushed for. What they were actually pushing for is…well, nonsense, peddled by people who realized they could get elected by pushing divisiveness.

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  5. Agreed Dennis, basically we need- as gays and liberals- to sort out where the line is. Bakers or photographers perhaps should be on one side of it, pediatricians and public servants on the other; or maybe public commerce should be on the gay side of the line and private activity on the other. The point is that we do have to figure out where that line is and lay it out and then we have to do the cruelest thing gays could ever do to religious conservatives; happily ignore that they and their arguments even exist.
    Storming churches and the like? That’s familiar ground to the religious- it’s baked into the bones of Christianity (Christians have often sat uncomfortably in the dominant position); they relish oppression, they long for it so they can transcend it. Ignoring them, finding them quaint but harmless, that’s what’d really sting.

    Now that we’ve won the war we’re gonna have to figure out how to win the peace.

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    • There will always be places where it’s hard to draw a line. When the same sort of argument was going on about pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions because of religious beliefs, it’s one thing when that’s in a Denver suburb where another pharmacist is likely on duty, and worst case there’s another pharmacy within walking distance. It’s another thing entirely when you’re talking about Baca County, Colorado, where the next pharmacy may be a 60-mile drive.

      I expect the Utah approach to work reasonably well along the urban/suburban Wasatch Front where the church leaders admit they have to adapt to a larger, changing world and the LGBT leaders admit they may have to go around the corner to a bakery that welcomes their business. I expect it to work much less well in rural Utah where’s there’s a lot more resistance to being part of that larger, changing world.

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      • Perhaps, but short of trying to drive gay acceptance into the households of every religiously backwards group (a goal sure to be viewed by the mushy middle as aggressive overreach and likely to prompt backlash and thus be self defeating) that is an unsolvable problem other than by the obvious: accepting that gays (along with everyone else) will continue to migrate out of ruralian shit holes.

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      • Of course many pharmacy operations such as Wal-Mart and Costco, Walgreens and CVS have mail order operations, that will deliver to your mail box. No need for a local pharmacist to be involved at all. In particular after the first fill. If it was not for the state licensing issue I suspect that Amazon would be in that business (since all the others are in every state they already have the license). In addition many health policies rely on benefit managers who do all business by mail. In one sense much of the rural urban issue has been eliminated by UPS and FedEx and indeed by the Post Office as well. Its really a problem only for more emergency cases.

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      • Which, let’s be clear, means jack-all for one-use emergency contraceptives and early-term medical abortofacients, which seem to be the primary drugs at issue in the conscience-of-pharmacist debates.

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    • basically we need- as gays and liberals- to sort out where the line is. Bakers or photographers perhaps should be on one side of it, pediatricians and public servants on the other; or maybe public commerce should be on the gay side of the line and private activity on the other.

      Except that the line has been in place for fifty years. Liberals don’t need to sort it out, and conservatives don’t need to sort it out either. I’m open to good-faith arguments that seek to nudge that line in one direction or another. But the vast majority of arguments I’ve seen from anti-gay conservatives is that gays need their own special line, because the one we already have for race, gender, religion, age, disability, and so forth just won’t do for gay folks.

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    • “Now that we’ve won the war we’re gonna have to figure out how to win the peace.”

      We haven’t won the war. Not even close.

      Affluent white cis gays have won their war. Now the question is, do they pull the ladder up behind them?

      Currently, legislation against transgender people gets very little attention, nothing even close to this level of outrage from the public, including from the broad LGBT coalition. Which is to say, the HRC loves us when they are collecting checks, but when bad laws get proposed (never mind passed), barely a peep. There will be some pro forma press release and nothing else.

      They would mobilize serious ground-game to fight for gay marriage. For us, not much at all.

      And thus white liberals pat themselves on the back about how open-minded they are, but they only do what is easy and cheap. Fly your yellow-fucking-equal-signs assholes. (To be blunt about it.)

      Will any of these sanctimonious ninnies offer to boycott these states?

      Of course not. Trannies are gross. Plus George Takei won’t congratulate them on their Facebook feed.

      Blah.

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      • I accept the corrective Veronica, apologies.

        Trans is a serious and difficult one to tackle because the size of the population is even smaller than gays and the public understanding is very poor. Trans concerns also don’t fit into pithy soundbites very well, alas.

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      • In general, how do you feel about the constant linking of LGB and T (and other identifiers). On the one hand, there is natural overlap and allyship between the different groups. On the other hand, there are some real differences between the groups that sometimes makes it silly to lump sexual orientation and gender identification into one bucket. I’ve had a few conversation with folks (all gay or bi men, for the record) who have noted that some LGB folks don’t like the inclusion of T folks, with some reasons being rather practical and some being rather unsavory.

        I’d be curious to hear your thoughts, if you are willing to share (with the full concession that your thoughts are yours and I’m not asking you to speak for every trans person).

        Thanks.

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      • — I don’t think there is any more difference between trans women and the remainder of LGBT than there is between (for example) gays and lesbians. They are culturally very different, but all these groups share a common history.

        Keep in mind, the first person to throw punches at Stonewall was a dyke. The next group to throw down were the queens.

        We were all there, but the last people to step up were the “respectable” gay men. In fact, many of the “respectable” gay men spoke out against the riots. Such behavior was unseemly. No doubt it would “set back progress.”

        Now days the “respectable” gay men work hard to keep the West Village free of whores and hustlers and other undesirable queer scum. People forget their history. But not really. These men have always been thus.

        In any case, we weird trannies have been part of gay liberation from day one, even if the “respectable” gays found us an embarrassment.

        But fuck those guys. It’s our turn.

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      • Thanks. I guess what I mean is that issues like who gets to use what bathroom seems (to this cis straight dude) an issue unique to trans folks and other people who do not accept the gender binary (please feel free to correct any misuse of language here). So it is not a “gay” issue but a “trans” issue so does it rise to the level of LGBT issue? From what I hear you saying, trans folks were there to support the LGB crowd but that is not always reciprocated. Am I getting that right?

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      • Which is to say, the HRC loves us when they are collecting checks, but when bad laws get proposed (never mind passed), barely a peep. There will be some pro forma press release and nothing else.

        They would mobilize serious ground-game to fight for gay marriage. For us, not much at all.

        My understanding has always been that HRC was incredibly late to the game in supporting SSM and for quite some time actively tried to discourage activists from pushing for it. In effect, they only really started pushing for it when it was politically safe to do so without undermining Democratic electoral aspirations.

        Essentially, I’ve always understood HRC to be more an arm of the Democratic Party than a truly dedicated or effective interest group. To the extent they were viewed as representing LGBT people in Washington, the Dems on Capitol Hill were able to just take LGBT people for granted. Until, that is, some LGBT people essentially gave HRC the finger and just started doing their own thing, Dem political interests be damned.

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      • — Well, tons of gays don’t personally want to get married or adopt kids, but we still kinda expect them to step up for their brothers and sisters, simply by virtue of the fact “they get it.”

        Surely the folks who want to kick me out of the restroom are doing it for the same reason they want to kick the gay man out of the health club (or whatever). They see us all a queers. I’m a “faggot” also, even if I’m not really a man.

        Surely they have as much reason to support me as straight allies have to support them. But even more. We were at Stonewall.

        “Fuck you I got mine” ain’t a good look on anyone.

        — The HRC logo basically says to me “I’m a white straight urban liberal.” On the other hand, they seem to do a fair job of channeling money from corporate America to Washington. Which, that money is gonna flow, and it’s gonna buy interest, and I hope some of it buys my interests.

        Funny story. My employer sent my wife and I to this year’s big Boston HRC fundraiser blow out. Which, I guess our Cambridge office dropped just enough cash to score two seats. So our lovely “woman who actually runs the site even if she doesn’t have the job title but some man does” is a lesbian, and with her boundless sense of pluck, she decided to send the new tranny employee to the HRC!

        It was kinda funny. The only people I knew there was the DJ they hired, this badass sporty dyke. Plus the “Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence showed up. They know me. But literally no one else in that enormous crowd was anyone I had ever seen anywhere queer. It was basically the most un-gay event ever.

        We split early and went to a queer dance party in Allston.

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      • Heh. Yeah, that sounds like an accurate description of corporate-sponsored fundraisers. I’ll wager that the ratio of “business cards exchanged:people dancing” was roughly 78:1. On the low end.

        I should say that I’m sure HRC does at least some small amount of good, but ultimately spends most of its efforts pushing for things that won’t require political bravery for Democrats to support/oppose, while -I’d bet – also pushing for things that are higher priorities for other aspects of the Democratic coalition but that have pretty tangential relevance for LGBT people.

        I’d make that bet because I think people tend to underestimate the effect that political parties have on their constituent interest groups while overestimating the effect that constituent interest groups have on political parties.

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      • “…who gets to use what bathroom seems (to this cis straight dude) an issue unique to trans folks and other people who do not accept the gender binary (please feel free to correct any misuse of language here).”

        This particular issue isn’t just an issue for trans folks–it affects anyone who appears gender non-normative. As with so many things, some people have the ability to “pass” and others don’t. I had a long conversation in an airport with a cis-gendered lesbian who appeared pretty “butch”, to use her term. (She’d sat near me and my husband because she decided we were probably gay and relatively “safe”.) She described experiencing precisely the sort of harassment and violence that trans folks experience, including for using the women’s restroom! She wasn’t trans, she just wasn’t “feminine” enough. And, like many folks who are not gender normative in appearance and behavior, “passing” was not an option for her. She knew she’d still stand out in lipstick and a dress.

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      • It’s not the same. No one is trying to criminalize a butch woman using the women’s room.

        Note this is not about rudeness. I don’t really care if some cis bitch is rude to me in the restroom. I’ll just laugh at her. This is about the force of law. This is about jail time.

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      • This is why I keep wondering, *exactly*, how the ‘You must go to the bathroom that matches your legal gender’ is even supposed to work.

        I honestly would be tempted to randomly start accusing people. Just completely randomly. ‘Prove you’re a man!’ (It’s on a driver’s license, but most people wouldn’t think of that.)

        As I’ve said before, no man has ever dressed up as a woman to attempt to sneak into women’s restrooms and spy on them in the entire history of ever. Why? Well, to be blunt, the entire point of those perverts is to masturbate to it, and other women tend to notice when a women pulls out her penis while staring though a crack into an occupied bathroom stall! This is why 100% of spying that happens in restrooms is via cameras and peepholes.

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      • “It’s not the same. No one is trying to criminalize a butch woman using the women’s room.”

        I’m not trying to argue the laws will affect the woman I spoke with at the airport the same way they would a trans person. I was trying to say that harassment and violence happen to people who don’t appear gender normative, some of whom are not trans. I was addressing Kazzy’s statement that social rules about gendered bathroom use affect only trans people and those “who do not accept the gender binary”. My brief acquaintance was neither trans nor someone “who rejected the gender binary”, but she was physically assaulted for using the women’s restroom.

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      • @veronica-d

        Thank you for sharing your perspectives.

        Veronica, I’m blanking on where the image comes from, but I’m remembering a scene in a movie or a show or something where a gay man (maybe even a gay couple) who can easily ‘pass’ stand idly by while someone with a more marked identity is targeted for abuse. You see the struggle on his/their face as they are tempted to step in and stand with their ‘gay brother’ but opt for self-preservation and continue ‘passing’.

        I doubt this phenomenon is unique to the LGBT community. In fact, I know it isn’t. It poses some interesting questions as to who has responsibility to whom… does the 24-year-old gay dude who was born well after Stonewall ‘owe’ anything to trans people similarly too young to have been alive at the time?

        Well… I should say… those questions are interesting to me… again, a straight, cis* male. I’m sure they feel very differently to you, Veronica and Zane, and others who were, are, and will continue to be the targets in the struggle and especially if that fight is lost.

        Ultimately, I’d say we owe it to our fellow human to be good, decent, and respectful regardless. To me, that seems to include equal rights to all and respecting how anyone chooses to identify their gender (or not).

        * and white, middle class, college-educated, northeast, Christian (culturally, at least), etc… basically, I own just about every type of privilege and they only thing that might land me on the other side of the coin is coming from parents who divorced…

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      • “Well, to be blunt, the entire point of those perverts is to masturbate to it, and other women tend to notice when a women pulls out her penis while staring though a crack into an occupied bathroom stall!”

        Did “your friend” tell you this? :-p

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      • I should own my privilege in this discussion. While I’m gay and an atheist, I’m also white, cis-male, and reasonably middle-class (though my family’s economic status was often poor when I was a kid). Historically, I passed as straight without any particular effort (though with a lot of angst). I’ve never directly experienced violence due to my sexual orientation (though I have often feared violence).

        I think it’s incumbent on those of us with privilege to be aware of it. I remain blind to my privilege at times, despite my efforts. I can only promise to keep trying. I try to put myself in other people’s shoes. “If I were biologically female, but felt myself to be just as male as I do now, what would it be like to move through the world?” It’s not perfect, and it needs to be informed by other people’s real experiences, but it’s a start.

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      • It poses some interesting questions as to who has responsibility to whom… does the 24-year-old gay dude who was born well after Stonewall ‘owe’ anything to trans people similarly too young to have been alive at the time?

        Well I guess he has to ask himself if anything at all separates him from the average dudebro?

        I mean, I know a lot of young cis gays for whom the answer is “not really that much.”

        On the other hand, those who came before us fought so we could have better lives, not that we could wear hairshirts forever. I certainly want the 24 year old cis gay to dance and party and celebrate a life of amazing beauty.

        But then, I’m not asking him to take a bullet for me. He doesn’t need to hide me in his attic while the gestapo searches his house.

        I just want his voice, his vote — maybe he could hand out some flyers.

        History is a river.

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      • As I’ve said before, no man has ever dressed up as a woman to attempt to sneak into women’s restrooms and spy on them in the entire history of ever.

        But sooner or later it’s gonna happen, right? It’s a big world, lots of people. Furthermore, when it does, you can be sure they’ll shout it from the rooftops with sanctimonious glee.

        So yeah, we have to be prepared for this.

        (I quite believe that those who hate us in fact hate us so much that they want these things to happen. They are eager, cuz to them the pain of the victims means nothing but the war means everything.)

        This is not all. Sooner or later an actual trans woman will do something terrible in a public restroom. Which is to say, trans women are probably about a quarter of a percent of the population, which means that there is something shy of a million of us (in the US). At least one of us is a scumbag.

        How many cis women are scumbags? Who here thinks the number is zero? Has no pervy cis women ever peeked through the cracks between the stalls?

        It is this: We are women, and we risk as much in the women’s room that any cis woman risks in the women’s room. We’re in this together. But how dangerous is this really? — I mean, compared with all the other ways that people can be terrible to women?

        If a trans woman behaves badly, treat it exactly as you would a cis woman behaving badly. If a cis man pretends to be a trans women and goes on to behave badly, again treat him the same — until maybe the authorities figure out what is going on. Then throw the book at the fucker.

        If a cis man pretends to be a trans woman and enters the women’s room, wherein he quietly does his business, and then he washes his hands, and then he checks his makeup, while he perhaps smiles and chats and compliments a woman on her shoes — well, what is the problem exactly?

        At that point we might conclude that this man is not exactly pretending.

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      • v,
        I’m dead on certain the number of guys entertaining themselves in the women’s restroom, without wearing a dress, is a LOT more than the number who put on a dress before doing it.

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      • How many cis women are scumbags? Who here thinks the number is zero? Has no pervy cis women ever peeked through the cracks between the stalls?

        Yeah, that’s always the really stupid part of this. Actual lesbians do exist, and surely *a few* of them would be horrible enough to do that. Or, if we’re assuming that the real problem is men spying, gay men exist also. And, weird fetishes can exist outside of general sexual orientation.

        You’d think this would be a bigger issue due to homophobia, but it’s not. I’m not even sure what sort of dumbness is going on here, but I’m suspecting some *other* sort of prejudice is countering this worry! (Probably sexism. Only women ‘need protecting’, and only from men?)

        The actual fact is, most of us would rather not have random strangers look as us when unclothed, and also don’t like to be in situations where random strangers *could* see us unclothed if they choose to do so, even if they don’t.

        So here’s a crazy-ass idea: Let’s just make it where stall doors actually close all the way. And put up dividers in public shower rooms.

        Oh, and another easy solution to people going into the ‘wrong’ restroom: Why the *hell* are single occupancy restrooms with locking doors labelled as ‘men’ and ‘women’? Just make one damn room, people. As a guy, I assure people I’m not going to freak out because there’s a tampon dispenser on the wall, and I think women can live with seeing a urinal.

        It is this: We are women, and we risk as much in the women’s room that any cis woman risks in the women’s room. We’re in this together. But how dangerous is this really? — I mean, compared with all the other ways that people can be terrible to women?

        This reminds of the idiotic ‘What bout the shower’ bullshit of the whole ‘gays in the military’. My God! Some gay guy might happen to observe some guy he’s sexual attracted to without clothing on! This is the worse horror ever!

        Much worse, apparently, than the *actual epidemic of sexual assault* in the military. Of both women and men.


        I’m dead on certain the number of guys entertaining themselves in the women’s restroom, without wearing a dress, is a LOT more than the number who put on a dress before doing it.

        Yes.

        The thing is, the people who are going to ‘misbehave’ in a restroom are not actually planning out some sort of crime and expecting to get away with it. In fact, I’d suspect that most of them have some sort of mental problems.

        Worrying about this like it’s some sort of real problem is like worrying about public masturbation or something. Yes, it’s something that happens, but it’s not some sort of crazy plot we need to worry about, it’s people with mental illness and no impulse control. (And, to address veronica’s point, yes, eventually one of those misbehaving people will be a trans person. At which point everyone will freak.)

        The pervs who *are* thinking logically are the ones that sneak in when no one is there (And thus how they dress is completely irrelevant) and install cameras and whatnot. That’s how people, usually women, are *actually* spied on restrooms. Seriously. It happens all the damn time, at least compared to people trying to peer through cracks in a damn door.

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  6. It seems like biggest stumbling block in coming to a compromise with religious conservatives is not just their fear, but their apocalyptic certainty that they are going to be “wiped out.” Their fears should be considered but when they think they are about to be tossed into the ovens or “reeducated” then how is conversation possible. Not only are those things far out to say the least but it is really hard to see the difference between their fear of being wiped out by LBGT’s and fear of the kenyan muslim socicist etc etc.

    The quote from Brooks does give away a bit but not completely what you think. I hear plenty of how the world is getting worse and terrible which i might buy if i didn’t remember the cold war and the possibility of nuclear war and Russia with guys like putin in charge but also really really powerful instead of, at best, a regional power or the endless small wars around the globe or how much better life is in many ways now.

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    • Agreed about Brooks Greg, I’d take today’s world over the world in the Aughts or the 90’s, warts and all.

      We need to keep in mind, also, that it’s not just religious conservative’s fear we need to consider. We need to consider the fears of the newly triumphant SSM movement that their progress could be stalled or reversed. We need to consider the fears of other affiliated groups that the progress will stop short of or not include them. We need to consider the fear of the low information muddled middle that the winners of this issue will begin actively and affirmatively meddling in their own affairs like the busybody social cons of yore used to. It’s not just the religious who are afraid.

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      • North…question/comment. It seems like the gays/lesbians i hear in the media, like the Rauch guy, who are counseling compassion for the RC’s are coming from a much more comfortable position as LBGT people. They have secure jobs and are comfortably open. I’m thinking for many other LBGT people w/o safe jobs and living in harsher conservative areas aren’t feeling the war is won, we just have to settle a nice peace. In fact i’d bet lots of gay folk in small towns in Indiana are saying that right now.

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      • Greg, yeah there are gay people better off and less better off. Ruralia remains generally unfriendly to gays which is understandable considering that it’s generally old, economically depressed and dispersed.

        What your question/comment overlooks or assumes is the presumption that continuing to press the fight with the same absolutism as gays and their allies used in the past will continue to yield the same benefit. The fear, and I suspect it is a rational one, is that overuse of those tactics will stall or even reverse gay rights. The mushy middle has been brought into sympathy with gays primarily via the mechanism of coming out. The history of gays parent civil rights predecessors warns us that overreach is possible and the mushy middle can turn against or tune off of gay affairs easily.

        The question isn’t just whether gays should storm the RR’s bastions and force them to gorge on the bitter ashes of their defeat but also whether gays even can. As a tiny minority gays rights are profoundly dependent on the good will of non-gays. Overreach is a serious danger.

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      • North,
        you have conservative christians deliberately adopting gay kids in order to “save them from themselves”. This has predictably bad results, a lot of the time.

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    • I dunno- gay re-education camps sound kinda fun. I would go to one just for the fashion advice.

      More seriously, the old saw about not being able to reason someone out of a position they haven’t reasoned themselves into is valid here.

      Like the stereotype of the black welfare mother, the prospect of a lavender mafia storming churches isn’t based on a reasoned extrapolation. It is the prop used to justify an irrational hatred. They don’t so much believe it, as need to believe it.

      There are some people whose homophobia can be resolved by actually meeting gay people- that’s how I and most people changed. Once we get past that group though, we encounter people who just plain old want to hate.

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    • Yup, read Dreher’s latest blog post about the coming apocalypse because the Indiana RFRA law might have to be tweaked to match other states RFRA laws, which even agnostic Devil worshippers like me have no problem with.

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  7. Will Muslim butchers in the Muslim part of town be forced to butcher hogs brought in by jerky non-Muslims?

    Because the second that laws are passed talking about how religious beliefs are not sufficient to refuse service, there are a bunch of jerky non-Muslims out there who, just like the homophobic cake guy in Denver, will love to teach the concepts of pluralism to that part of town.

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    • There is a considerable difference between telling merchants you have to sell these things than there is between telling merchants you have to sell to everybody with enough money to buy your product. With the former, its the government directly controlling the business itself. Thats part of the command economy, its saying what the Communists did when they tried to determine how many flower shops a particular city needed. Nobody wants to control the number of bakers in a city in the name of anti-discrimiantion. Very few people are disturbed if Muslim butchers don’t sell non-hallal meat but they would be disturbed if they refused to sell hallal meat to non-Muslim customers and rightly so.

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      • In case anybody wonders why a non-Muslim would go to a Muslim butcher, Muslim butchers are usually the only reliable source for goat meat in the United States.

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      • Most kosher food is produced by non-Jewish factory workers. Kosher food only needs to be under Rabbinic supervision for the most part. Who does the actual labor is irrelevant. The big kosher meat processing factory that was raided a few years ago in Iowa had a mainly undocumented Hispanic workforce.

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      • @leeesq
        1. My guess is that this would fall under the ministerial exception, which would make it a constitutional issue such that RFRA was irrelevant. I could be wrong about that, though, since the businesses themselves aren’t religious institutions.
        2. Even if, in the context of a kosher factory, most of the workers are not Jewish, and only supervised by rabbis, non-discrimination laws would, absent some sort of exception (whether RFRA or constitutional), still ordinarily raise questions about why only Jews could be supervisors. Absent such an exception, if someone sues on the grounds that a business is refusing to promote anyone who is not of a particular religion, it wouldn’t be a defense to say “yeah, but we have lots of entry-level workers from other religions.”

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      • The big kosher meat processing factory that was raided a few years ago in Iowa had a mainly undocumented Hispanic workforce.

        They would hire people of any religion, so long as it was someone they could exploit mercilessly, so put those ugly stereotypes away.

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      • And here are the halal requirements:

        http://halaladvocates.net/site/hfsaa/our-standards/

        3. The slaughterer must be a sane adult who is a practicing Muslim. He must believe in all the essential matters of faith as described by Imam Tahawi in The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi.

        Religious discrimination is required for halal meats. I wonder if progressives will change their opinions on religious exemptions to discrimination law when the Pamela Geller start suing Halal butchers(I’m surprised they haven’t done this already).

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      • But the businesses don’t have to be religious institutions, , they only have to have a relatively perfunctory commitment to [religious] principles written into their articles of incorporation, a history of [religious] charitable donations, [religion]-friendly personnel policies and shareholder agreements that keep the shares in the hands of people who are [religious]. We know that because the Indiana RFRA is worded functionally the same way, and at least as expansively, as the Federal RFRA.

        From they’re, they’re free to define their religious objections to whatever it is that they don’t want to do based upon their own subjective interpretations of the tenets of [religion] and will be able to claim an exemption.

        And no one would ever do something like that in bad faith. These are businesspeople we’re talking about.

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      • “There is a considerable difference between telling merchants you have to sell these things”

        So we can use this argument in favor of pharmacists who refuse to stock or sell Plan B and/or forms of contraception?

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      • I don’t know enough about Kosher wineries. My guess is that is probably right that the bona-fide occupational requirement exception would apply, especially if combined with the ministerial exception. Either way, I don’t think RFRA would be necessary where you’re talking about manufacturing an explicitly religious product that must meet explicitly religious requirements about who manufactures it.

        RFRA comes into play for potential anti-discrimination law purposes in the instances of public accommodations law and clerical/secular jobs within religious organizations.

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      • I’m not following you here at all – my point in this comment has to do with the fact that RFRA isn’t even relevant to the scenarios is putting forth here – the RFRA question doesn’t even need to get reached because there’s already protection in place. If it’s otherwise, then that would certainly seem to pretty strongly demonstrate the need for a much stronger RFRA in most people’s eyes – you’d essentially be saying that Muslims and Jews cannot produce halal and kosher meats without violating discrimination laws.

        But RFRA – whether or not you think it’s a good idea – does not, in fact, come into play in these situations, whether because of the ministerial exception or the bona fide occupational requirement rule.

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      • In the case of kosher food, the bona fide occupational requirement applies because Jewish law requires that a Rabbi certify that a product is kosher by making sure the instructions are being followed. The requirements for kosher wine are more stringent on that it requires Jews to hsndle it would on every level of production.

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      • Very few people are disturbed if Muslim butchers don’t sell non-hallal meat but they would be disturbed if they refused to sell hallal meat to non-Muslim customers and rightly so.

        Exactly. So, wrt the Indiana RFRA protections accorded religious folk, can a bakery bake a gay cake? Can a cake be gay? Can gummint compel private citizens, thru threat of violent punition, to create such a thing??!!?

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      • To my knowledge, , the Indiana law imposes an RFRA-style test (in other contexts I’ve called it “Super Sherbert“) to any business regulation, in particular anti discrimination in public accomodations laws. So we aren’t just talking about ministerial exceptions allowing (for example) an abattoir to hire a rabbi to certify it’s products as kosher. We’re talking about hotels not renting to gay couples because they might use the room to be all gay and stuff in there and that ain’t Christian.

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      • Mark,
        no, no, you’re not understanding. Rabbis are not supervisors, in a business sense. You hire them as consultants, and you basically give them a bribe to say “yes, this is a good factory”.

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      • Yeah, I absolutely get that. You’re still misreading my point on this subthread, I think. I’m responding to ‘s assertion that RFRA is needed to protect halal and Kosher butchers/wineries. My point is that it’s not, and separately – as I’ve argued in other comments – that RFRA probably isn’t very likely to protect other forms of employment and public accommodations discrimination (even if it’s intended to do so).

        I realize you disagree with me on that latter point, but so far as I’ve been able to tell, RFRAs have only been adequate defenses to discrimination suits when the ministerial exception would otherwise apply. The best discussion I’ve yet found on this is in Redhead v. Conf. of Seventh Day Adventists, 566 F. Supp.2d 125. That case surveys the existing case law on the topic, which seems to generally say that (1) there’s a compelling government interest in enforcement of anti-discrimination laws (which seems like a slam dunk conclusion, honestly); and (2) that enforcement of those laws meets the least-restrictive means test unless it’s being applied in a way that would run afoul of the ministerial exception.

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      • That case surveys the existing case law on the topic, which seems to generally say that (1) there’s a compelling government interest in enforcement of anti-discrimination laws (which seems like a slam dunk conclusion, honestly); and (2) that enforcement of those laws meets the least-restrictive means test unless it’s being applied in a way that would run afoul of the ministerial exception.

        There are not anti-discrimination laws to defend here. LGBT is not a protected class; nor are women with unintended pregnancies.

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      • That’s true on a state level, but the effect of that would be to just make RFRA irrelevant one way or another on those issues (that there are no anti-discrimination laws on those issues obviously can and should be a source of anger in and of itself, though). Additionally, local jurisdictions – particularly Indianapolis – may have their own anti-discrimination laws that include LGBT and pregnancy, and those laws would be affected by RFRA. If, of course, it can be interpreted in the way suggested by its opponents and, indeed, a good chunk of its proponents. My point is that it probably can’t be interpreted in that way.

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      • I don’t think we can know this one way or the other, not until the court cases actually happen. The HL decision was, remember, narrowly tailored to contraceptives alone; or so I recall the Robert’s saying in his opinion. That’s not what we see as a result here, is it?

        More importantly; the law sets in motion something that will be tested; and before it reaches that point, what will the law actually do, on the streets where real people actually have to live? There a parts of Indiana where I can imagine not being welcomed for lunch if I’m alone, no husband or other woman with me. Certainly, there will be clerks who won’t want to register marriages, pharmacists who won’t sell women morning-after contraceptives or any contraceptives at all. I can just imagine the members of a band doing on tour and being denied lodgings because the proprietor thought they might be gay or lesbian or drug fiends.

        There’s likely to be many of these instances before we ever get to the court case, no?

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      • I’ve not read Redhead but will do so. I’m confident your squib is an accurate statement of its holding. If this holding of Redhead gets ratified by SCOTUS, I’ll feel a whole lot better about Super Sherbert in the many places where it has been popping up. Like Indiana.

        Nothing short of a partial reversal will make me feel better about (private, for-profit) corporations being able to hold religious beliefs and engage in religious practices. I’ve no problem with the notion that human beings who happen to be officers and directors and shareholders of corporations hold religious beliefs and engage in religious practices, just the entities.

        And I’ve no problem, in theory, with Sherbert or its recapitulation as RFRA existing as a safeguard against intrusion on those practices. People ought to be able to practice their various religions. They also ought to comply with the law; needs must these imperatives be balanced against one another as needs must they conflict from time to time. My objection is that the presumption of individual religious beliefs forming exemptions to enforcement of laws exceeds the scope of nominal non-participation (for instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses refraining from the Pledge of Allegiance) and enters a realm where the ability of the government to function as to the whole of society is impacted (as in Hobby Lobby, for reasons including the ones articulated so forcefully in the Notorious RBG’s dissent).

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      • First, my point is that there are already at least some cases that address this issue, and the contours of those cases are, so far as I’ve seen thus far, what I outlined above (compelling interest in anti-discrimination laws, combined with least restrictive means being satisfied as long as the task/job is secular, which is identical to the Constitutional test that the photographer in Elane Photography failed to pass). This is something that should have been covered by the media, hasn’t been, and would have been fairly easy to cover.

        The other thing is that each of those things (except one) exists already since Indiana doesn’t prohibit those forms of discrimination. It seems odd to me that the problem with its RFRA is that it would permit that which is already permitted (however wrongly).

        The one possible exception to that is the issue of clerks not issuing marriage licenses, but those clerks are government actors acting in their capacity as government officials – there’s not even an argument that the state RFRA would affect them since the issue of whether SSM must be acknowledged is going to be a function of federal Constitutional law, meaning that, if anything, they’d have to rely on the already-extant federal RFRA (and they’ll fail at that, too, since their actions would be a constitutional violation and a statute is never a defense to a constitutional violation).

        It’s possible, because of the horrible press coverage of this law, that some people will take it as a license to discriminate in a way that they previously didn’t despite the fact that discrimination was already permissible. And for that reason, I absolutely and completely think it’s appropriate, bordering on necessary, to clarify that the law won’t provide an exemption from discrimination laws.

        But that doesn’t change the fact that the coverage on the law has been horrible from day one.

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    • Well Jaybird, the situation is that nobody’s actually doing that and so it’s a meaningless waste of everyone’s time to bring it up as a hypothetical.

      And if anyone ever did do that then the butcher would need to show that he’d actually been harmed by being forced to handle meat–which, I mean, come on, handling meat is his whole job, and plus which he got paid so I don’t know why we’re even still talking about this. Clearly he was not harmed and so he’s got no standing to sue about anything.

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  8. Re: Education Camps

    Not exactly, but this seems of a kind.

    As the Mr. Randazza says, take this with a grain of salt, but the general gist is that student orgs have to attend LGBT sensitivity training in order to get their share of funding from the school, and a conservative group objects, and thus is making a big stink about it. It isn’t re-education camps per se, but it is a pretty big stick to be using to get people to attend training.

    My opinions align pretty closely to that of Mr. Randazza.

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    • Hey, if you want to be a recognized group on campus, you got to follow the rules. If the YAF want to just be an group of douchebags, I’m sure there’s plenty of frat houses that’ll have a spare room for them to meet in.

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    • You have to click through to the source page, but from that:

      “The Young America’s Foundation is a political organization, not a religious one, so they cannot seek a religious exemption,” argued members of Allied in Pride on their Facebook page.

      “And their refusal to use preferred gender pronouns should be considered an act of violence and a violation of the non-discrimination clause required in all GW student organizations’ constitutions.”

      No, it should not be considered an act of violence, because it isn’t an act of violence. Not even close.

      An act of insensitivity, sure.

      Meeting hyperbolic tantrums with more hyperbolic tantrums just makes Dennis’ argument.

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    • Isn’t George Washington University a private institution with students who voluntarily choose to attend? While you or I might object, this isn’t exactly the State imposing heretical views on an unwilling populace.

      Or should GWU be held to a different standard than Bob Jones University or Liberty University, which have far more stringent requirements of students?

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      • You are assuming intent on my part that isn’t there. Even if GWU was a public university, they could still require students to take a class on whatever they want. I think requiring students to “pass” such a class could be problematic (unless passing can be accomplished by showing up and not being a disturbance – if there is a test or quiz on such, that’s a bit much).

        I posted the story to A) give an example of the current state of LGBT re-education camps (sorry , doesn’t appear to have any fashion advice), which is underwhelming; & B) to give a good example of how NOT to, as they say, win the peace.

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      • Sorry, you’re probably right. I’m probably oversensitive to the issue of college behavior and speech codes due to my interest in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

        FIRE steadfastly goes after universities that they view as infringing on the free speech and behavior of faculty and students. They claim to have no liberal or conservative bias, but have a handy carve out for religious schools (almost entirely conservative Christian colleges) that claim some other value trumps free speech.

        As the “exempt” conservative Christian colleges are by far the worst offenders on these matters, it sorta sticks in my craw. I don’t hate that they address freedom of speech and behavior issues, that’s all to the good. I hate that they essentially give a free pass to those who hang out a sign indicating intent to discriminate.

        Sorry for my assumption.

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      • It would be helpful if the hyper-liberal schools had the terminology that the hyper-conservative ones do. I feel like anybody who attends a school that boasts a heavily Christian atmosphere leaves prospective students knowing, to some degree, what they’re getting into. Or at least to beware.

        Other than the really big name hyper-liberal schools, I would actually need an organization like FIRE to give me a heads up.

        My expectations for a GWU are genuinely different than a Baylor. So even if GWU isn’t as bad as Baylor, there is a reason that it might warrant more scrutiny.

        That being said, it wouldn’t hurt to have at least a perfunctory assessment of religious schools, so that people who go to PCC know that it’s far more strict than Baylor, and that TCU is lighter still.

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      • I share your interest in FIRE, and while I do wish they would focus more on working to change the policies of religious schools (or at least be more comprehensive in their descriptions of such), I can appreciate that they have limited resources and have to focus on the schools they can affect, particularly public institutions that are obligated to obey the First Amendment, and private schools that advertise a strong commitment to First Amendment principles, while having policies that suggest otherwise.

        As Will states below, religious schools tend to be quite open and forthcoming regarding their speech & behavioral codes, and oftentimes advertise such as a feature of the campus. No one applies to Bob Jones thinking “This will be a school where I can truly explore concepts and ideas that run the gamut while freely indulging in mind altering substances and prodigious coitus!”

        Aside: So GWU was created by an act of congress, but is a private school? So why did it need an act of congress? Because it’s in DC?

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      • FIRE does provide information about schools, but they seem to be primarily advocates, not reporters. They actively assist individuals they identify as victimized by colleges. (The assistance seems to be primarily in the form of publicity and advocacy.)

        My concern is partly that conservative Christian colleges are the ones most likely to do harm to LGBT people. Not all college-bound young people feel they are free to choose any college. Some receive parental support that is conditional on the school chosen. Some realize or accept they are not straight only after entering college. Also, FIRE isn’t only about students, they also address faculty and staff. You’re a janitor in a rural area who works at the local Christian college and get fired for your political affiliation? No help for you, your circumstances landed you at an “exempt” school.

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      • “…I can appreciate that they have limited resources and have to focus on the schools they can affect, particularly public institutions that are obligated to obey the First Amendment, and private schools that advertise a strong commitment to First Amendment principles, while having policies that suggest otherwise.”

        They’re pretty clear it’s not an issue of resources. They don’t view themselves as having a role in addressing private schools that claim something else trumps free speech.

        This bugs me in part because it plays into a narrative about “liberal academia” and “speech codes” while excluding far more restrictive thought, speech, and behavior codes at exempt universities. One could argue that a liberal’s speech is far more constrained on conservative campuses than a conservative’s speech is liberal campuses, but one wouldn’t know it by FIRE. (I know, I know. How would you quantify such a thing? But you get what I mean.)

        FIRE is also a little weird about how they discuss exempt colleges. I can’t seem to find a comprehensive list and you have to dig a bit to find their policy. Their recent report “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2015: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses”* lists 7 exempt schools, but it’s not clear why those schools land in the report (they’re not discussed), while others don’t.

        Looking at the 7 schools in the report, we find: Baylor University, Brigham Young University, Pepperdine University, Saint Louis University, Vassar College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Yeshiva University. Again, none of them are actually discussed in the report, other than to note they are exempt. They’ve listed 4 conservative religious schools (Baptist, Church of Christ, Mormon, and Catholic), and a liberal secular school, a private “tech” school, and a Jewish school. Given that there are far more colleges exempt than these, I have to wonder if they were selected to give the impression that the exempt schools are relatively even in numbers ideologically.

        FIRE repeatedly notes that Liberty University and Bob Jones University are exempt. Just do a site search and you can find them. But there is no overall list of exempt schools. FIRE used to cite Bard College as an example of a “liberal” school that was exempt, but Bard changed its policies and no longer is exempt. I think Vassar’s the only “liberal” have left, and I suspect that’s why it’s included in that 2015 report. The need to appear ideologically neutral might also explain why Liberty and Bob Jones don’t make the list in the report. (Liberty University is much larger than Vassar in enrollment, and Bob Jones is roughly the same size as Vassar.)

        * https://www.thefire.org/spotlight-speech-codes-2015/

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      • You haven’t said anything I disagree with on the whole. I wish FIRE would be more active against religious colleges, and more comprehensive in their analysis of the schools objectionable behavior (a effort that could likely fill volumes), but actively they are pretty much limited to PR campaigns against such religious schools. Since they can’t really be sued except under very narrow circumstances, and, as they say, such schools make it very clear that they have no intention of respecting the free speech rights of students, staff, or faculty. So the best they could hope for is to expend resources waging an aggressive PR campaign against the school for what would likely be little effect.

        The private liberal schools they target, on the other hand, advertise an open, welcoming free speech environment, while maintaining and enforcing policies that can be argued run counter to that claim. In this case, a PR campaign makes the school look hypocritical & dishonest, and if effective can have a positive impact on getting such policies, or marketing, changed (since such schools ideally would not want to appear hypocritical or dishonest).

        A PR campaign that highlights how awful Bob Jones is toward the LGBT community is not exactly shining a light in a dark corner, nor likely to bring shame to the school. It’s like saying “Evil School is Evil!”.

        Again, I wish they would do more toward that front, but I won’t fault them for not tilting at something they consider a windmill.

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      • Oh, god. FIRE again.

        Someday I’m going to write some sort of guest post on that.

        FIRE are…liars. Just out and out liars. They deliberately misstate rules.

        As I have said here before, I can find at least one *lie* (not just a disagreement, an actual falsehood) on every page they attempt to dissect speech codes. Often it’s easy enough to prove *using the facts they themselves provide*.

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  9. “There is a lesson here for both sides. For religious conservatives, it is to at least acknowledge LGBT persons.”

    What part of the Indiana law acknowledges LGBT persons? Is this even a lesson that religious conservatives are willing to learn?

    “For the LGBT community and our allies, it means respecting the faith of religious conservatives.”

    Considering that many in the LGBT community are also religious conservatives, I’m not so sure this is the lesson the community needs to learn either.

    If there’s any lesson it’s probably this: This is a denominational (as opposed to doctrinal) fight that is going to mean less and less to fewer and fewer people.

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    • How would you want conservatives to approach this broad topic? What would you expect a law to look like? I’m not sure how a law that doesn’t criminalize a thing should acknowledge that thing.

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      • Honestly, Pinky, on this subject, I’d like to see conservatives adopt a dispassionate professionalism rather than seeking to carve out religious exceptions. There are religious exceptions I would support. Want to wear a Dastar? Go for it. Excuse the JW kids from the Christmas play? Sure, why not.

        Allow businesses owned by religious conservative to refuses services to the “undesirables?” Absolutely not.

        Dispassionate professionalism, man. Dispassionate professionalism.

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  10. The thing that’s bothering me here is something we discussed a lot in the HL case — Indiana is different from other RFRA laws because it’s not about the government finding least restrictive ways; Indiana gives this freedom to people to decide (rather like Stand Your Ground,) it creates a positive right for a person to not do business with you in discriminatory fashion. It doesn’t restrain government, it enables certain people. The judge, who doesn’t want to perform the SSM ceremony; the town clerk or court clerk who refuses to register a marriage certificate, the school principle who refuses to recognize the adoptive parent, partner to a biological parent.

    To Dennis’s point, I read an essay this morning, I’ll link it if I can find it, but this discussion takes place in our differences and animosities, not where we hold things in common. It’s like when I go to Rod Dreher’s blog; I want to read about the food, but I get sucked into the SSM/liberal vitriol.

    A huge part of this is that the vast majority of Christians, let alone evangelicals, are (letting themselves be?) defined by the radicals right now; and liberals seem happy to go along with that; and so the good and wonderful things done by Christians get lost in the conversation. Christians do a lot of good work in this world; they don’t just do evil. I’m glad more Christians are speaking out agains radicalism; there were a lot of churches in OK willing to conduct SSM ceremonies, remember.

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    • because it’s not about the government finding least restrictive ways; Indiana gives this freedom to people to decide (rather like Stand Your Ground,) it creates a positive right for a person to not do business with you in discriminatory fashion. It doesn’t restrain government, it enables certain people. The judge, who doesn’t want to perform the SSM ceremony; the town clerk or court clerk who refuses to register a marriage certificate, the school principle who refuses to recognize the adoptive parent, partner to a biological parent.

      Do you have a link to your source for this conclusion? Because that doesn’t seem to be an accurate description of what the Indiana RFRA says at all. At most, it contains a clause that allows RFRA to be asserted as a defense in a private suit, but there’s actually a circuit split as to whether the federal RFRA allows this despite its lack of explicit language to that effect. So that aspect of Indiana’s law is not without pretty major precedent.

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      • Garrett Epps.

        First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs.

        The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, iregardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language.

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      • I thought that’s what you were referring to. Like I said above, even though that language is not in other RFRAs, at least 4 federal circuits have nonetheless interpreted RFRA as allowing it to be raised as a defense against a private party, so there’s definitely precedent for that aspect of it. And the idea that RFRA can be raised as a defense by a for-profit business is, after the Hobby Lobby case, settled law (before that, there was a circuit split) even though the federal RFRA doesn’t explicitly say that it can be raised by for-profit businesses. So while those two items are not explicitly in the text of the federal RFRA, they’re just as much part of the federal RFRA as if they were explicitly in that text. In other words, the federal RFRA was ambiguous about those two items, and a good number of courts have found that they are implied. In that regard, Indiana’s law is different only insofar as it makes explicit what a lot of courts have found to be implicit in the federal RFRA.

        None of which, by the way, leads to the conclusion that Indiana’s RFRA of necessity legalizes discrimination. I’m honestly not sure whether it does, and my sense is that it probably doesn’t (and this is important) even though most of Indiana’s GOP legislators almost certainly wanted it to.

        The salient question is ultimately whether the government has a compelling interest in anti-discrimination laws and whether those laws can be enforced in a more narrow way, which is probably the ultimate question in most RFRA suits. I have strong doubts that courts would say that there is no compelling interest in enforcing anti-discrimination laws (there clearly is), and that uniform enforcement of anti-discrimination laws are the least restrictive means of advancing that interest.

        But I certainly could be wrong. My problem is that the way the media has covered this story – as with most legal stories – has been utter crap.

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      • Epps asserting that the law, as written creates a positive right, or that’s my read on Epps piece. We discussed that at length during HL; because I maintained I had a positive for women to not have employment be based on exercise of employer’s religious beliefs, when it was their own religious beliefs that mattered, remember? (Essentially, I’m suggesting that your belief is personal, so personal property.) You spoke quite loudly about HL as a matter of the government not finding least restrictive means; not that woman had a positive right to their full suit of health-care services via their employer-provided health care insurance.

        I’m willing to muddle through this; I could well be wrong. But Epps interpretation seems to suggest, like stand your ground laws, it’s up to the perception of the person determining if their religious rights are being violated; just the the SYG shooter only needs to feel threatened and endangered. Both, it seems to me, imbues those citizens with that positive right.

        Please correct me if I’m wrong.

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      • As I vented on Twitter the other day (I actually Tweeted!), there are some basic things that any story about a controversial law or proposed law absolutely needs to cover:

        1. What does the law actually say? If there’s a controversy about language in the law, then what, exactly is the language that’s controversial? Prior to the last 24-48 hours, I couldn’t find a single major media outlet story that quoted any part of the proposed law.
        2. If the controversial consequences are not explicitly set forth in the text, why do opponents think it will have those consequences? This was almost impossible to find in most stories I saw until the last 24-48 hours.
        3. Do other jurisdictions have similar laws? How many? This was in some major outlet articles I saw previously, but not many.
        4. If so, how have courts in those other jurisdictions applied their similar laws to the controversial situation? Outside of a few posts in, of all places, conservative outlets, I’ve yet to see an article discussing this at all. It’s also critical.
        5. How does this law differ from other similar laws? The article you linked is one of the very few (perhaps only?) instance where I’ve seen this discussed at all. That would make it a good article, except that it skips question 4.
        6. What do the bill’s sponsors and supporters hope to accomplish with the bill? On this, most mainstream outlets I’ve seen have also been lacking, but some left-wing outlets have actually been quite good.

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      • But Epps interpretation seems to suggest, like stand your ground laws, it’s up to the perception of the person determining if their religious rights are being violated; just the the SYG shooter only needs to feel threatened and endangered.

        So it’s too much like sexual harassment law?

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      • The thing is that, at least you seem to be using the term, all RFRAs create a “positive right,” so I’m not seeing how this is any different. The only differences Epps cites are the two mentioned above, but my point is that those aren’t really differences because many federal courts have basically interpreted the federal RFRA in the same way as they would if it had the same language as in the Indiana proposed law.

        I emphasized the “least-restrictive means” test in the HL case because that’s how the law is written and thus that’s what the law requires, whatever my personal feelings about it may be. I also said that I thought this should have been a fairly easy bar for the government to meet, but that it made almost no argument to meet that bar.

        The issue of whether something was a “sincerely-held belief” and a “substantial burden” on that belief is absolutely extremely subjective. But that, again, is what’s in just about all RFRA laws, and for various reasons courts have pretty uniformly said for 20 years that the party making a RFRA claim should just about always win on these prongs with virtually no inquiry. Personally, I have definite problems with this low of a bar, but it’s the bar that’s in place. Indeed, you may recall that I eventually came to the conclusion that HL should have lost on this ground, but it’s hard to ignore that the bar the courts have set on this issue has long been so low as to be almost impossible to miss.

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      • I am not going to argue SYG; that’s my opinion of it after reading through every SYG case in FL in a terrific interactive put up by a Tallahasee newspaper. I read through every case, and studied the statistics on the law’s implementation; in comments here, I pointed out that a lots of black men protected themselves from white aggressors.

        But I did read through every single case. That’s my opinion of how the law’s working; it favors the perceptions of the person with the gun to act appropriately; sometimes it seemed justified, though I’m sure you could get there via other policy. (Mental illness and substance abuse for instance; WOD, domestic abuse. . . ) Some people seemed to have gotten away with some nasty stuff (Martin’s Murderer,) and some sent to jail anyway for attempting to defend themselves (women, here).

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      • Once again, Zimmerman’s defense did not rely on Stand Your Ground. His claim, supported at least somewhat by the wounds on the back of his head, was that he was pinned to the ground and unable to flee, which would have been a valid basis for defense in any jurisdiction in the country.

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      • Zimmerman’s defense may not have explicitly cited SYG, but it was definitely a factor on the deliberation process according to one juror ( http://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/trayvon-martin/article1953286.html ). This is actually a useful example of a law shaping courtroom decisions even when it does not have a direct impact. Like, say, a law that explicitly allows discrimination against gays in a state that already does not include gays as protected from discrimination.

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    • Now here’s a sweet thing:

      All it does is grant religious people the right to a court hearing in such matters, to determine if there is a way that the state can better achieve its aims than to compel the business owner to violate his conscience.

      That’s from Rod Dreher. A rich (and deeply sourced) argument that the law doesn’t allow discrimination, it instructs the state to look for ways to better achieve it’s aims. There’s some pronoun confusion there that should be sorted out; but to me, that reads the government’s aims — the State of Indiana. So the question is, what is the State of Indiana’s aims? There’s no law protecting LGTB from discrimination, and there’s been overt attempts to overturn women’s rights to control their own reproduction.

      Also, Time has dubbed this the new conservative litmus test. Everybody’s jumping on board.

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  11. There is a very good reason to ban private discrimination that a lot of people have not picked up on. In a diverse society, bans on private discrimination help maintain the social peace. When private discrimination was allowed was also a period of a lot of violence against African-Americans. I do not think this is coincidental. Maintaining a social structure of discrimination and caste requires more than various forms of private discrimination like racially restricted covenants. It also requires constant vigilance on the part of those that would discriminate to maintain it. By banning private discrimination, you create at least an artificial civility in society that maintains the social peace better.

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  12. So I heard rumblings that (I think it was) Wisconsin was debating a bill that would require that for any company who wanted to exclude services to LGBT customers on religious grounds, if otherwise allowed by law, they would be required to include this fact prominently in all advertisements. So thus, if Joe’s Diner didn’t want to disallow trans folks, they would have to put that on all their roadside billboards. They would have to display it in their Yellow Pages ad. It would have to appear on the door.

    This seems fair. If indeed they block me do to some “principled stance,” let them take the stand loud and public. This way I know to avoid them. This way I know to not even pull over my car.

    And I bet most cis people will join me in not doing business with such bigoted creeps. If evangelicals want to live in their ghetto of hate, then let them.

    How’s your wedding cake business doing with your big ad saying you hate gays? Go ahead, advertise.

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    • Now that’s interesting. Usually the reason that “compelled speech” cases are losers for the government is because the plaintiff complains that she is being required to say something, or to support someone saying something, that she doesn’t agree with.

      But here, the business is being forced to say something that by definition it does agree with, to disclose a choice it has made about itself. Gonna have to ruminate on that one in my spare time….

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      • I think its allowable for the same reason that other consumer information and warning labels are allowed. Businesses of all sorts have different free speech rights than a normal person. Making a business disclose that they do not serve LGBT people seems permissible for the same reason that making pharmaceutical companies disclose side-effects of their medicine is permissible, making sure customers know what they are getting.

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    • I was actually thinking something along these lines when trying to suss out what, exactly, my position is. If you want to discriminate, you have to be very loud and clear about it. Has to be a sign on your front door. Has to be on every advertisement you make. Has to be on the front page of your website, if you have one. And if you’re part of a chain and the chain won’t put it on their website? Then you’re stuck, aren’t you? It should require no more than minimally necessary for someone to find out that you won’t serve them. (And from a personal standpoint, I would like to know and would direct my business accordingly, when possible.)

      (Even with all this, I’m still disinclined to allow it when it comes to public accommodations of necessity. Food, shelter, and the like. The only exclusion being if you’re by-appointment and/or don’t take walk-ins.)

      I don’t see how this would constitute compelled speech, for the reason that Burt cites. It strikes me more along the lines of mandatory disclosure, which we have no problem compelling.

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    • I’ve advocated that for pharmacies for some time. You have pharmacists on staff that won’t dispense medication A? Then you need to reject that prescription in the first place so it can be placed with a pharmacy that will fill it. There’s no excuse for withholding that information until the patient comes in to pick it up.

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      • For me, the issue is one of needing a license to dispense such a thing by penalty of law.

        So if you have been granted a limited monopoly on handing out medication A, you’ve got an obligation to hand out medication A. It’s not like 7-11 refusing to carry energy drinks. Anybody can sell energy drinks and anybody can buy them. But if you are the only game in town (under penalty of law) for selling energy drinks, your refusal to stock them makes the argument that you shouldn’t have the license to sell energy drinks.

        Now, if we want to make this stuff over/behind the counter and salable by anyone who has a counter to sell stuff over/behind, then, sure, refuse to carry it because of your morals. Knock yourself out.

        It’s the license that changes things here.

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      • >>It’s the license that changes things here.

        That makes a ton of sense. If you want to call yourself a “Shmarmacy” and lose all of the benefits of the pharmacy license, then feel free to stock or not stock whatever you want. Isn’t this essentially what a GNC is anyway? Of course, this raises the question of whether Shmarmacists should still be legally allowed to fill prescriptions.

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      • Worth pointing out… Pharmacies don’t have to stock and sell everything though, and it’s not just birth control and religious conscience. The law in Washington State was actually shot down because it said “You don’t have to stock everything, but you can’t choose not to stock something because of your religious beliefs”… which was kind of a problem.

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      • I don’t mind the argument that pharmacies don’t have to stock everything that they have a license to sell. There’s limited space, after all. We regularly go to our pharmacy at Safeway and they tell us “we don’t have this now, we won’t have it until Wednesday” or what have you.

        But, by goodness, they have it on Wednesday.

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      • Some pharmacies don’t want narcotics on their premises at all due to theft, for example.

        I’d be more inclined towards the licensure argument if we were taking about regional monopolies.

        The cases of “one pharmacy towns” are exceptionally few. Even in ruralia, they tend to have none or more than one.

        Also, what Lyle said about mail ordering. If we’re taking about something that can wait a few days, anyway.

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      • I think that reasoning also proves that all wine shops have to stock Night Train.

        While I have been in liquor stores that didn’t sell Night Train*, they seemed to be liquor stores that wouldn’t have moved it had they stocked it. I’m sure that if they would sell it, they’d have it on a shelf somewhere. (And, in this particular case, the reasons for not selling Night Train don’t exactly map 1:1 to reasons to not sell Plan B.)

        *Maybe they had it behind the counter out of sight.

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    • “Hey, Tuesday nights are pretty slow here, aren’t they? Would you be able to fit about 30 people? It’s a party for my Mom’s 70th birthday, so I’m inviting all of her friends. So, if you can figure a menu, maybe three courses and dessert? And wine, of course. Just let me know the total.

      “Oh, you know what? Mom’s best friends are a gay couple, and I see on your sign there that they won’t be welcome. See you later, loser.”

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      • And the flip side: “I saw on your sign there that you don’t serve gays. Can you serve my church’s youth group?”

        Assume these signs will be displayed with pride, not shame. Assume the company who is showing one of these signs has already priced in the boycott and is banking on the “buycott.” Judge the effectiveness of your protest accordingly.

        But don’t assume that anyone pushed into a ghetto of any sort has any designs on staying there.

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      • Well sure, but this will end any conversations about scuttling the careers of your evangelical colleagues.

        Which sounds kinda like mutually assured destruction. But thing is, I think we queers will win this one, for the simple reason that we ain’t nearly as ugly as the hard right who hates us.

        So sure, Joe Small Business will do fine in Backwater Cowtown, IN, but not much beyond that. And sooner or later the queer kids (most of us) will find their way out, to the big city and all of that, where their parents, should they ever visit, might have to share the restroom with a gross tranny like me. And Mom will give her pinched, disgusted look — I’ve seen it a thousand times — and I will smile.

        Always smile.

        And no, I don’t like this either. But we are right and they are wrong and my life happens now, and I ain’t gonna wait for these fuckers to catch up. Nor should anyone.

        This was the same game the racists fought. They were mean and wretched. In time this came to show.

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      • I agree emphatically Veronica; which is why we must choose our battles carefully. If we start riding into small town ruralia on an quest to vanguish homophobia everywhere we’ll start to look like the people we’re fighting dangerously quickly.

        It’s harsh to say but maybe we should be resigned to gay kids in rural areas having to take their talent and energy elsewhere.

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      • North, I’m going to kind of disagree. Leaving LGBT people in ruralia areas behind is not a solution. In fact, it might be even less than a solution now than it was during a more active era of prosecution for being LGBT in a rural area. Making a giant move from rural area to the big, metropolitan city has never been easy for anyone even if you were only doing so because you were a tenant farmer that lost his or her lease. Actively facing physical harm or worse is a great motivating tool for a move to the big city or a new country. This might have made it easier for LGBT to abandon rural areas in the past. Less active persecution in the form of discrimination might actually serve to strengthen the chains that could tie an LGBT person or really any person to a bad place because it makes the stakes of staying more bearable. I think in that situation, you really do need to push for equality everywhere equally rather than do the abandonment of certain areas strategy.

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      • You have a point Lee. I just am doubtful that ruralia is convertable short of simply sitting back and letting the grinding wheel of mortality shuffle the oldtimers off to the busom of Jesus. Most assuredly the strategies that worked nationally and in urban and suburban settings won’t work. The danger is that LGBT’s start becoming seen as the agressors in the culture war (not by the right wingers, they’ve always thought that, but by the low info middle); that’s a receipe for serious trouble.

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      • Like I said above, anti-discriminatory laws like the 1964 Civil Rights Act are perfectly legitimate on social peace grounds from my opinion. In a diverse society, making people at least adopt the forms of tolerance on the surface is necessary. In fact, if you do it long enough you can actually get people to change on the inside to.

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      • I actually think the rural issue is a big deal. There’s one pharmacy here. Since we’re a resort town — a wedding destination — there’s lots of bakers, caterers, florists, etc. But drive 1.5 hours upstate and that’s not the case. There are lots of towns with a single store/gas station and the next business is 60 miles away. And this is Maine, where the scale of the DeLorme atlases is much smaller than the scale used for the Indiana atlas and things are even further apart.

        There’s another aspect of this that disturbs, and that’s the life of teens growing up in families; children at risk of being sent to gay-conversion camps, for example. You know the depression and suicide rates as well as I do. Their lives matter.

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      • I concur Zic, their lives do matter but this is not a discussion of whether the SSM movement chooses to swoop into ruralia and blow away the fog of social conservatism or chooses not to but rather whether they choose to -attempt- to do so to social conservatism’s bastions and whether they’ll do more harm to their cause by trying to do so than by taking a more hands off approach. Success in such an attempt is far from a forgone conclusion and the potential costs of such an attempt (not monetary mind but in far more valuable coin) is large.

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    • So the seal of The Good Christian™, letting you know that you might not be welcome? While I want to say it’s a good idea, it reminds of the signs in the 30’s business would put up about who need not apply.

      And as good an idea as it might seem, I can’t help but consider this important (and very libertarian) concept I learned from this Jason K. Clowntown post:

      We would live in a horribly impoverished world if everyone had to gin up some love before they traded. As a less than fully sympathetic individual, I only live at all by the kind of sheer, blissful indifference that we find in the market. The same, though, may be said of you, even if it’s a lot less obvious: We all depend on largely anonymous trading networks for the specializations and the gains from trade that make modern abundance possible.

      Keeping them possible is the first thing that I would ask about, when presented with a new way of looking at the world. Not – “How am I going to preserve my parochial hatreds?” – but rather: “How am I going to preserve the extended, largely anonymous economic order that somehow manages to feed us?”

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    • “So I heard rumblings that (I think it was) Wisconsin was debating a bill that would require that for any company who wanted to exclude services to LGBT customers on religious grounds, if otherwise allowed by law, they would be required to include this fact prominently in all advertisements.”

      It may have happened elsewhere since, but this was initially done by Emily Virgin, Democratic Representative in Oklahoma. She offered an amendment to proposed “freedom to discriminate” legislation that would require that businesses wishing to discriminate publicly post (onsite and in any advertising) that they do not serve “x” group of people. Shockingly, this seems to have killed the bill which had been sailing through the legislature.

      http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/%E2%80%98religious-freedom%E2%80%99-bill-ditched-after-amendment-added-prevent-gay-couples-being-humiliated1

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      • Hehe. This is always what I propose, completely straight face, for a compromise allowing gay discrimination.

        All they have to do is inform people officially, of this, via a sign and in ads. This is, literally, something businesses have to do *all the time* anyway. And, hell, we require them to say all sorts of things about their own stuff they possibly don’t agree with, or nutritional information they don’t want to advertise…making them state their *official corporate policy* of who they will provide service to seems trivial compared to that.

        We can even make an logo for it to save space..take the little ‘restroom’ men and put them next to each other so they’re holding hands, put a big slashed circle over them.

        Somehow, the people pushing for the right for businesses to discriminate usually get very very uncomfortable at this suggestion…although they never seem to be able to explain why they don’t like the idea. It logically saves *everyone* time and potential dissatisfaction. It’s basically truth in advertising laws.

        Of course, what it actually does is label bigots and would result in something like 30% of their customers turning around at the door and going elsewhere. And passing such a law completely undercuts their entire ‘We must protect ourselves from gay people’ hate-baiting bullshit.

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      • The problem is that forcing those who wish to discriminate to publicize their intent only discourages discrimination when public opinion has reached a particular point. Southern states, businesses, and institutions were not shy about publicizing “whites only” policies in the past.

        Requiring notice of discrimination is only a strategy, not a solution.

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      • The problem is that forcing those who wish to discriminate to publicize their intent only discourages discrimination when public opinion has reached a particular point.

        Yes. But we’ve actually reached that point WRT to sexual orientation.

        I can see some sort of argument that some tiny town might end up having a sign like that put on the door…but I think you missed this point that this was intended as a ‘compromise’. I live in a state where it is currently *entirely legal* to discriminate against gay people. My idea is to make it illegal for any business to do that…unless they post the sign, in which case they can.

        This is because I’m often arguing against dumbass ‘libertarians’ who think that if business owners want to refuse service to someone for whatever reason, they should be able to.

        And so I nod and agree, and say ‘Sounds good to me. Of course, they’re claiming that they provide a service, wasting everyone’s time, so my one caveat is that they have to notify people of their policy in advance.’.

        And it *completely destroys* their position. (Rather like it did in Oklahoma.) They can’t logically argue with that, but they know damn well that putting up such a sign will cause general outrage, so no business will do it.

        Requiring businesses provide public notification of what classes of people they want to discriminate against is, 100%, a winning argument for the pro-civil-rights side.

        Southern states, businesses, and institutions were not shy about publicizing “whites only” policies in the past.

        As someone in the South, I feel duty bound to point out that asserting it was *just* the South that did that is a bit ahistoric. The South didn’t have like 100% of the racism…the South had like, uh, 75% of the racism. There were ‘whites only’ signs other places.

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      • “I can see some sort of argument that some tiny town might end up having a sign like that put on the door…but I think you missed this point that this was intended as a ‘compromise’. I live in a state where it is currently *entirely legal* to discriminate against gay people. My idea is to make it illegal for any business to do that…unless they post the sign, in which case they can.”

        I don’t think I missed the point. I agree that it seems that we’ve reached the point where allowing discrimination with posted notice wrt same-sex couples would be a potentially useful compromise on a path toward reducing discrimination. I’m just arguing that it won’t be a useful compromise on all civil rights issues at all times. If the vast majority of people support such discrimination, this compromise would be a terrible approach. That’s why I view it as one tactic among several, rather than as the one-size-fits-all solution that, say, Rand Paul might once (still?) have argued for.

        “As someone in the South, I feel duty bound to point out that asserting it was *just* the South that did that is a bit ahistoric. The South didn’t have like 100% of the racism…the South had like, uh, 75% of the racism. There were ‘whites only’ signs other places.”

        You’re certainly correct. It’s just that in the American South such signs (and segregation) were mandated by law and had a ubiquity uncommon elsewhere. I used the South as the example because of that ubiquity. I’m guessing that the Oklahoma legislature was hoping for a “more Northern” approach to discrimination–more de facto, less public–and were ultimately frightened off by Rep. Emily Virgin’s reasonable-seeming amendment. But again, this would not be a solution for all issues or in all circumstances. It was a tactic useful in this situation at present (and as you point out, a tactic probably useful even if it had been implemented).

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  13. OMG

    Buchanan:

    How are we supposed to punish Christians for sinning against liberalism? Will jailing be necessary, or caning, or just depriving them of their livelihood? The Hillarys of our world have a right to call such folks bigots and homophobes. But should they have the power to punish people for acting on their religious beliefs?

    Isn’t the First Amendment supposed to protect this right? Whatever became of the conservatives’ Free Society?

    Initially, under Obamacare, Christian colleges and businesses were forced to provide employees with birth control and abortion-inducing, morning-after pills. The regime was ordering religious people to behave in ways that were abhorrent to them and contravened the teachings of their faith. Like shariah law, liberalism imposes its values upon nonbelievers and punishes noncompliance.

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    • Pat seems to have some time line issues.

      Soon, dirty language became common on radio, cable, and in film. Pornography was declared constitutionally protected. Larry Flynt was the First Amendment hero. Rap singers used the crudest of terms for women and the N-word for each other. A new freedom was born. That is, up until two soused freshmen from Sigma Alpha Epsilon began a chant on a bus with high school seniors that used the N-word.

      Then the air raid sirens went off. Mass protests were held on campus. Students told how sickened they were to TV cameras descending on campus. Oklahoma University President David Boren expelled the evildoers. The frat house was shut down and fumigated. An investigation of SAE nationally is being conducted. Editorials blazed, though the U.N. Security Council has yet to table a resolution of condemnation.

      What does this gibberish even mean? Can somebody translate it for me?

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      • Zic, seems pretty clear to me; Kids these days aren’t good kids like back in my day. Also have super size dollop of liberals destroyed the country with their naughty words and sex and 1st amendment. Generic aged conservative crank column.

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      • “Wave flag, pretend like it’s the other side that’s doing it.”
        Buchanan’s side can’t take a joke (or a hint), so he’s doing his best to distract from the people who’s lives get ruined.

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      • Introducing a polemic from the other side, calling it “gibberish,” and failing to exercise any noticeable effort to understand the position seems contrary to the spirit of the OP. Buchanan believes that there is a double standard in operation, whereby social conservatives of the type whose views he seeks to represent are expected to squelch their reactions to expressions and conduct they deem offensive, and believe contribute to cultural decline as a practical as well as aesthetic matter, even as offenses to a social-liberal sensibility are treated as of high importance, thus the sarcastic exaggeration about UN Security Council condemnation.

        The cake/photography/ceremony issues seem to close in on the point where the “live and let live” presumption switches sides in relation to marriage equality. Compelling people in whatever way to perform a creative or other act celebrating something of which they disapprove, or which they for whatever good or bad reason dislike, does carry with it an aroma of totalitarianism or “zero tolerance for those who disagree.” Taken to an extreme along a path of perfect consistency, declining-to-decorate-a-cake-for and favoring-genocide-against approach each other, but Mr Sanders and some of the writers he mentions are making a classic plea for moderation, against impossible and counterproductive demands for conformity.

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      • I have to humbly disagree with you here. The gibberish was that last paragraph I quoted. Please unpack it for me; it’s so loaded with culture-warrior that’s pretty much on the verge of being irrational that it laughable; best understood through this lens, a great analysis of the othering going on in our social wars.

        I haven’t noticed Christians having to wade through lines of shouting protestors and sidewalk atheism-counsellors as they enter their churches on Sunday. Did I miss something?

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      • There’s nothing to “unpack” further: He is attempting to evoke the dramatic reaction to the fraternity chant and eventually uses a UN version of “making a federal case out of it,” when, in his view, gross offenses to his sensibility occur constantly, and have advanced progressively in frequency, extent, and depth over the course of decades. From his point of view, liberals have produced an arbitrary regime with which social conservatives have mostly had no choice but to endure, while the Indiana law is a small attempt to push back in the other direction, and safeguard some areas in which social conservative sensibilities receive the same respect social liberals demand for themselves everywhere else.

        You may have missed the part where social conservatives cannot watch a sports event on TV without being bombarded with images, ideas, statements they deem offensive, or that, when ol’ Pat was growing up, would have been considered obscene. The people for whom he’s writing already feel shut out of mainstream culture, when in their living memory it was a “safe” place for them. In their minds, they have to “wade through lines” 6.5 days a week of people shouting “if it feels good, do it”/”hate America”/”hate white people”/”hate religion”/”traditional values are evil” etc, etc. at them. In their minds, they have long tolerated gross intolerance shown to them and their values, wholesale seizure of public common ground, so should not feel ashamed for asking now and then for their own occasional carve-outs.

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      • You may have missed the part where social conservatives cannot watch a sports event on TV without being bombarded with images, ideas, statements they deem offensive, or that, when ol’ Pat was growing up, would have been considered obscene.

        I am not a social conservative; yet I, too, find a lot of that stuff offensive. But it’s not liberals driving those offensive images, ideas, and statements (at least at watching sports). That’s advertising, mostly. That’s markets.

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      • “Markets” are one aspect of the problem for so-cons, , but only one, and there are many so-cons whose commitment to the true prosperity gospel faith as well as other features of the Republican unity position are suspect on this point. Even if they strongly favor market capitalism over alternatives, they will tend to be more willing to consider exceptions and divergences, though not the same ones, on principled Christian conservative grounds. In this way, the contradictions within the Republican/conservative/right coalition mirror ones within the Democratic/liberal/left coalition

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    • Sometimes I wonder: Do religious conservatives actually remember how they treated gays for the last couple hundred years? Like, people actually did go to jail, and worse. I would have a lot more sympathy if they maintained a healthy sense of perspective.

      Oh, and maybe a “gosh, we’re real sorry about all that ‘moral abomination’ stuff” would help smooth things over too.

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      • I do love me some Chick-Fil-A. I have, however, always known that it’s a conservative Christian company (they’re not open on Sundays, for Christ’s sake… I mean actually for Christ’s sake), and that they have a corporate culture built around that. If I were going to not eat their yummy sandwiches, I’d have started not eating them a long time ago.

        Frankly, it’s pretty amusing that people only decided to boycott them then. It’s like deciding to boycott Hot Topic because you finally realized they sold stuff to kids who listen to “alternative.”

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      • The Chik-Fil-A boycotts hurt so much because this was the first time that such a huge number of the boycotters actually had to stop going to someplace they actually went.

        Unlike the boycotts of, say, Wal-Mart.

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      • I think I may have mentioned this when the boycott was a topic ’round here, but my grandmother was a server at the original Chick-Fil-A, back then called the Dwarf Grill, and that’s where my grandfather met her.

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      • Chick-Fil-A puts an addictive chemical in their chicken sandwich that make ya crave it fortnightly. It’s the only explanation for something that tastes so delicious while you are eating it, then it sits in your stomach like a brick for an hour and you feel terrible, then two weeks later you are at it again.

        My friend was just afraid that Popeye’s was going to do or say something offensive, and THEN where would we have been? Without delicious chicken, that’s where.

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      • Except, why is it automatic that any christian company is anti-gay? There are plenty of Christians that support gay rights, and I see absolutely no value in shunning every company that puts a bible verse on the wall, nor in demanding that such companies answer for the evils of their co-religionists like a Fox news anchor interviewing Muslims.

        Christian values of love and support for human dignity are what made my experience as a gay man so overwhelmingly positive in a world where so many still face discrimination. The Chick-fil-A people got a boycott only when the folks in charge started saying nasty stuff about gays, which is precisely as it should be.

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      • Chick-Fil-A puts an addictive chemical in their chicken sandwich that make ya crave it fortnightly.

        Uh, yeah. It’s called ‘salt’.

        Seriously, that’s the secret. 1390mg of sodium.

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      • Alan, you are not wrong, except that Chick-Fil-A was, and is, a well-known conservative Christian company. Christians are not necessarily anti-gay, and conservatives are not necessarily anti-gay, but virtually all conservative Christians are to some degree.

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      • “Frankly, it’s pretty amusing that people only decided to boycott them then. It’s like deciding to boycott Hot Topic because you finally realized they sold stuff to kids who listen to “alternative.””

        Until it was discovered that Chick-Fil-A was giving money to the anti-gay marriage fight, I only knew that they sponsored the Dove Awards (awarded by the Gospel Music Association), and that they were closed on Sundays. I have no reason to object to either of those things, so certainly had no reason to boycott them on that basis.

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      • Zane, you’re right, if you didn’t know, you didn’t know. I have a hard time believing that many people in the South didn’t know, because it’s been around so long and its culture was really well-known. In California or New York? That’s more understandable.

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      • When this Californian moved to Tennessee and had that first taste of Chick-fil-A he thought “Holy crap this is TRANSCENDENTLY GOOD CHICKEN” and wanted more.

        So the next day came unto pass, and he went back to the Chick-fil-A restaurant, travelling dozens of miles to do so. But he found the restaurant closed, the lights inside dark, no other cars nearby in the parking lot, and the CLOSED sign up in the window. And he didn’t understand why. Lo! did he weep and gnash his teeth and rend his garments, for the TRANSCENDENTLY GOOD CHICKEN was gone, a gossamer wisp of a memory, gone in the breeze.

        Then a passer-by said, “It’s Sunday! You can’t get beer, either!” and honked his horn. And lo! the Californian wept again, for he knew then that he was in California no more.

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      • Zane, you’re right, if you didn’t know, you didn’t know. I have a hard time believing that many people in the South didn’t know, because it’s been around so long and its culture was really well-known.

        It’s not the ‘culture’ that’s the issue. I live in the South, and I’ve always known that the owner was very conservative Christian, and I even had read he personally wasn’t in favor of gay marriage.

        I didn’t care about any of that. I’m not the boss of him. In a pluralistic society, not everyone has to agree with me.

        But there’s a difference between ‘not being in favor’ and ‘spending money to fight it’, especially when it’s spending money he ultimately makes from *my* patronage. When I learned he was doing that, I stopped going.

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      • David, I’m good with people not giving money to other people who will spend it on political causes they disagree with. I’m just amused that some people didn’t see it coming.

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      • “But there’s a difference between ‘not being in favor’ and ‘spending money to fight it’, especially when it’s spending money he ultimately makes from *my* patronage. When I learned he was doing that, I stopped going.”

        Yup, that was my experience too. I don’t avoid businesses that are owned by conservative Christians. Why would I? But I certainly avoid businesses that fund attempts to maintain or bring back oppressive laws.

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  14. “Within reason, no one should have to compromise their faith to live in the wider society.”

    I feel like there is so, so much loaded into this. Because that’s what all this is about, isn’t it? The battle over the definition of what’s “within reason.” There’s going to be a huge amount of variation, from person to person, on what’s considered reasonable. So how do we decide what’s within reason?

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    • We can operationalize demands according to a schedule of primary goods and then maximin that schedule. Or of the tradeoff seems to happen along different kinds of goods, imagine that you don’t know whether that religion is true or false whether you have the preferences the religion decries. Then try to figure out which worst case scenario is preferable. Would you prefer to be a gay person who can be discriminated on by Christian cake shops or a Christian baker forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding? That you now believe that such a version of Christianity is true/false is beside the point. That one’s conception of the good is true can be equally claimed by everyone (and cannot be made good on to the satisfaction of those who are not already pre-disposed to believe).

      The idea is to lower the bar for reasonability, or to raise the bar as to what counts as unreasonable as far as possible. A demand is unreasonable if in demanding it for myself I require others to settle for less. As fortunes change, conservatives, who previously were making unreasonable demands may now make some reasonable demands on top of the host of unreasonable demands they previously made and continue to make. The fact that they continue to be unreasonable in making those demands should not blind us to the reasonability of some other demands that they might make. People commit an error when they suppose that unreasonability is essential to conservative demands.

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    • “religious” people should have the freedom to practice their “religion” in the privacy of their homes or their collective hateboxes as long as it’s behind closed doors where I don’t have to see it or think about it.

      This argument has never been used by any other group ever.

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  15. Anyone who has not seen the interview that Governor Pence did with George Stephanopoulos should watch a bit of it, because it so concisely demonstrates what this debate is actually about:

    Namely, that you can’t have your gay wedding cake and eat it too.

    I have no problems with religious protections in the law. I think the widespread praise of the Utah compromise shows that the gay community and their allies are accepting of religious protections that come from a place of good faith.

    But there’s no good faith in the Indiana Law. The law was brought to the table by anti-gay legislators, at the behest of anti-gay lobbyists, to legitimize the beliefs of anti-gay constituents. That’s why the defense that Clinton and Obama approved laws with “identical wording” isn’t just factually incorrect but ultimately beside the point.

    I don’t think that I’m in danger of being denied service or otherwise made to be the victim of non-trivial discrimination should I travel to Indiana. But I do think that the state of Indiana and its elected government have chosen to signal that I, and people like me, are unwelcome. And why should I come to a state where I’m unwelcome when I can go elsewhere? And why should businesses that seek my patronage or my talent stay in Indiana when they can go elsewhere too?

    Lots of ink has been spilled asking why Christian Conservatives and LGBT supporters can’t simply agree to disagree. But while this isn’t exactly agreeing to disagree, it’s not to far of what agreeing to disagree will look like: There’s not a version where Christians get to reject the fundamental humanity of gay emotions but still get invited to their gay neighbor’s barbecue. Agreeing to disagree will only ever be each side agreeing to leave the other alone, and in this case, gays and their allies seem perfectly willing to leave the state of Indiana alone.

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    • But there’s no good faith in the Indiana Law. The law was brought to the table by anti-gay legislators, at the behest of anti-gay lobbyists, to legitimize the beliefs of anti-gay constituents. That’s why the defense that Clinton and Obama approved laws with “identical wording” isn’t just factually incorrect but ultimately beside the point.

      Yes.

      I’ve pointed out on local political sites that the *Georgia’s* proposed RFRA does not actually do what supporters (and opponents) seem to think it does. It changes the level of scrutiny that the government has to prove…which has absolutely nothing to do with a civil lawsuit by a third party.

      So it doesn’t do a *damn thing* about the hypothetical ‘business sued over not providing wedding cake to gay couple’. The law allows suing *the government* (which is obviously not a party to the suit) to prove the law is the least restrictive, or *the government* has to provide relief, which doesn’t appear to have anything to do with third-party lawsuits.

      Indiana’s RFRA, it must be noted, *does* cover this sort of thing, because various state RFRA have quibbled over this exact point, some going one way, and some others, and Indiana made it explicit how it’s supposed to work.

      But here in Georgia, Republicans stupidly didn’t bother to pay attention, and in fact altered the wording in ways that make it even more government specific. Georgia Republicans are *really good* at ‘stupid’.

      I don’t think that I’m in danger of being denied service or otherwise made to be the victim of non-trivial discrimination should I travel to Indiana. But I do think that the state of Indiana and its elected government have chosen to signal that I, and people like me, are unwelcome. And why should I come to a state where I’m unwelcome when I can go elsewhere? And why should businesses that seek my patronage or my talent stay in Indiana when they can go elsewhere too?

      Yup. The entire thing is signaling. It’s obvious, because *discrimination based on sexual orientation is not illegal in Indiana to start with*. The law created an exception to a law that doesn’t exist! (And the same with Georgia.)

      And, on top of that, preventing discrimination actually *is* a compelling government interest, and has repeatedly been held to be so. So even under an RFRA, anti-discrimination laws wouldn’t be changed!

      RFRAs are reasonable ideas if implemented correctly. (For example, now that it’s been shown to be an issue, corporations should not be included under them.) But this is like, after a huge campaign to make gay people out as jaywalkers, the legislature attempted to make harsher penalties on jaywalkers. Harsher penalties on jaywalkers might indeed be a good idea, and such a law wouldn’t *actually* effect gay people (who jaywalk no more than anyone else) but, uh, you guys do realize we can *see* you, right? Everyone can see you.

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      • I notice there’s no counter-testimonial here; no individuals who, though they have religious beliefs counter to SSM, reproductive care, etc., proudly saying they understand this is not their judgment, it’s the individual person’s judgement, and they proudly do business with everybody.

        That would be not discriminating; Jesus, washing everybody’s feet.

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  16. I have to admit I find it funny how many people I know who didn’t care about gay rights when it was unpopular to do so, but now that the majority is on that side, they are going to support ssm with all they’ve got!

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  17. Dennis: “Gays and liberals seem to not want to give religious conservatives any inch on religious practice. ”

    Wrong. You really seem to be confusing ‘religious practice’ with ‘opting out of whatever laws they don’t like, while gleefully enforcing laws on others’.

    Frankly, I haven’t seen a single advocate of these laws use any arguments which could not and were not used against racial discrimination.

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  18. Dennis,

    There are a number of interesting points raised by various commenters. I’ll just summarize my own thoughts on your post.

    It seems to me that the Indiana RFRA is based off of the federal RFRA and deals mostly with the exercise of religion, which I take to mean practice. The reason I say this is that is when Arizona tried to pass a RFRA on steroids (SB 1062), the protection of the exercise of religion also included protection against a mere burden on beliefs. I have little trouble with the latter and much trouble with the former.

    As the various RFRA laws come up in various states, both religious conservatives and LGBT communities have to find a way to make room for each other. Not because they like each other. Not because they agree. But because for a democratic society to flourish, we have to find ways to accomodate the Other.

    As much as I deeply respect your tone here, some recent history is in order. First, a question: when the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage in the Goodridge decision, did religious conservatives recognize this as an opportunity to find ways to accommodate this change on the basis that our democratic society needs to flourish?

    Answer: No. Not only did religious conservatives and opponents of same sex marriage attempt to get a federal constitutional amendment that would have foreclosed any possibility of democratic deliberation at the state level, but they also proceeded to use democracy to not only place all sorts of bans on same sex marriage (by statute or state constitutional amendment) but several states passed bans on civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other kind of method that could have allowed gay couples to gain legal rights (because it was all about protecting marriage). If I had a nickel for every time I heard an opponent of same sex marriage stick their thumbs in the eyes of SSM proponents on the basis that democracy was against them, I’d be rich.

    There was no such accommodation based on people’s differences. There was a systematic attempt to shove gay couples back into the closet and squash any and all attempts for equality. There is nothing that represents this disgusting trend more than the effort to pass Proposition 8 in California. I can’t begin to tell you how angry I got when I read Judge Vaughn’s decision in Perry v Schwarzenegger and read the findings of fact. Proponents of Proposition 8 weren’t selling it on the basis of the institution of marriage but rather on bigoted fear mongering about gays.

    Given that the tide has turned and it’s more than likely that same sex marriage will become a federally protected constitutional right, am I supposed to believe that religious conservatives are acting in some sort of compromising or good faith fashion given the patterns of behavior they’ve exhibited in the past? There is a huge credibility issue there. Just like in Arizona, I see a lot of bad faith going on, and I’m not jumping on the “protect religious liberty” bandwagon until I see definitive instances where religious liberty has been threatened, the cases litigated and decided against religious liberty. Elaine Photography was not one of those cases (although I’m not sure if I agree with the reasoning, I’m good with the decision).

    In theory, RFRA doesn’t bother me. As it is, I don’t think RFRA claims will have a leg to stand on if they try to contest anti-discrimination statutes with respect to sexual orientation. Dealing with discrimination has already been established as a compelling interest and the opponents of same-sex marriage have done such a good job in establishing a case for systematic discrimination against gays that it’ll apply here. Also, seeing as most economic transactions have nothing to do with the exercise of religion and next to nothing to do with burdening one’s beliefs, it’s impossible for me to envision a scenario where RFRA is overly restrictive, and at this point, assuming I ever get into a debate about it, this is where I play the “Hobby Lobby” card and turn the decision against the people that favored it.

    Regarding left LGBT activists and their resistance to exempting religious groups, I can’t say how I feel about that one way or another without understanding the specific issue. If those groups want to force churches to marry gay couples (as an example – not saying they do), I’d have one opinion. If they were opposed to carving out business owners from anti-discrimination statutes, I’d probably be on board with them except in a few limited instances.

    Great post.

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    • True social conservatives were never opposed to SSM, they just had appropriate and non-bigoted Burkean* caution about tinkering with critical cultural institutions, which has now been resolved. Remember, true conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.

      (Also, a reminder: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.)

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      • I am reminded of my regular assurance to friends and family that by the time I’m an old man, conservatives will be swearing up and down that they were never against gay rights, and in fact it was liberals who were the *real* homophobes.

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  19. If you’re like me, as a liberal (and I’m sure my libertarian friends will nod in agreement), you often find yourself observing the actions and statements of some conservatives and thinking, “Wait… what??” It’s not just that they’re saying things you disagree with in a normative sense, but that what they’re saying doesn’t even seem to make any logical sense. A case in point is this under-reported story involving the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

    In the same way that all new military recruits, both officers and enlisted, take an oath of office, basically ‘protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic’, Academy cadets also have an oath and like many official oaths it has a traditional closing of “… so help me God.” In response to legal challenges from atheist groups, the Academy commander decided to make the “so help me God” part optional. So in response to that, Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, introduced legislation, The Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015, which would force Academy cadets to utter those words.

    So far, par for the course, standard SoCon, Tea Party crap that I utterly disagree with. But where it gets really weird by my lights is his justification. From the cited article:

    … Johnson feels the option is an affront to American freedom.

    “Let me be clear: Americans have the freedom of religion — but not freedom from religion,” Johnson said in a statement, using a familiar mantra of the religious right.

    “Our Constitution’s very 1st Amendment protects every individual’s freedom of religion,” he said. “But our servicemen and women who protect our country with their lives are seeing that freedom under fire.”

    And, added the God-fearing lawmaker: “The moral foundation of our country is in serious danger if we allow radical groups to dictate whether or not we can freely express our religious beliefs. It’s time to take a stand.”[emphasis RS]

    Is it just me or does his logic seem exactly ass-backwards? How precisely does making uttering “so help me God” optional diminish one’s freedom of religion? And how the hell does forcing cadets to utter those words that they may very well find pointless at best, or offensive at worst, enhance said freedom?

    Now I’m going to assume this guy isn’t a total moron (big give, I know, but follow with me here) and I’m going to exercise some of that vaunted liberal empathy and try to figure out just exactly how that could even make sense from his own perspective. And the answer is surprisingly straightforward. To many conservatives and other traditionalists “Freedom of Religion” is a collective right as opposed to an individual right precisely because the practice of religion is an inherently communal activity. To them, religious liberty isn’t so much about the rights of every individual to freely express and practice their belief’s so much as it’s about the right of the community to establish certain cultural norms and binding rituals.

    So viewed from this perspective, it’s not so much that they’re wrong in any objective, cosmic sense, but that they’re aims and goals differ dramatically from those of the liberal or libertarian. Conservatism values a certain homogeneity in society, a certain shared perspective, and thus demands a much greater degree of conformity from the individuals in the society to achieve that homogeneity. It’s an inherently tribal orientation.

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    • To them, religious liberty isn’t so much about the rights of every individual to freely express and practice their belief’s so much as it’s about the right of the community to establish certain cultural norms and binding rituals.

      Add “and to do so free from interference by the federal government” and you have yourself a winner. That ought to explain traditionalist opposition to the Establishment Clause jurisprudence developed in the 1960s in cases like Engel v Vitale.

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      • In a way I’m inclined to side with Justice Thomas. Personally, I would have rather seen the entirety of the Warren Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence rooted in the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.

        I don’t have a problem with incorporation per se but it seems kind of awkward to use the original amendments to the Bill of Rights when it was so clearly intended to restrict only the federal government. This doesn’t automatically mean that states are allowed to establish religions. Personally, I think this runs afoul of the traditional understanding of the police power of the states anyway, hence my 14th Amendment claim.

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    • so much as it’s about the right of the community to establish certain cultural norms and binding rituals

      Ok, I can buy that, but the whole Oath with God still fails that standard. Making the finishing statement optional was the right call. Requiring it, however, has two effects:

      1) It binds religion to government in a way that has been, time & again, rejected by the courts.
      2) It forces members who are not part of the religious community to participate in the religious community in a manner they may object to.

      I think you and I agree that the logic of this kind of enforced community runs exactly counter to the complaints of religious conservatives with regard to LGBT. The larger community has begun to accept LGBT as deserving of full protection & participation in society, so by their logic, they should willingly participate in that larger community, if they honestly expect non-Abrahamic religious people to swear an oath to their god as a gesture of communal participation.

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      • 1) It binds religion to government in a way that has been, time & again, rejected by the courts.

        Except when it’s been affirmed by the courts. You can walk the grounds of the Texas Capitol and find a big ol’ monument with the Ten C’s on it that got SCOTUS endorsement.

        2) It forces members who are not part of the religious community to participate in the religious community in a manner they may object to.

        Well yes, except when non-religious members of the community are told “suck it up, buttercup, it’s just ceremonial deism.”

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      • I’d wager that in the past, 30 years or so, the federal (and likely many of the states) courts have more often than not upheld the wall of separation.

        it’s just ceremonial deism.

        When Christians are in the habit of praying to Mecca while visiting a mosque, they can pretend ceremonial deism isn’t a big deal. Also, I said non-members of the religious community, not non-religious members. An atheist may not care about saying “so help me God”, but a hindu probably would.

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    • As much as I want to ascribe the charitable interpretation of thoughtfully enforcing communitarian norms as the teleology of contemporary conservatism, I just can’t find it in myself to say that Rep. Johnson’s proposal and accompanying statements are consistent with that goal.

      Graduating USAF cadets were never prohibited from saying “…so help me God” at the end of their oaths. Nor should they be in the future.

      Reinstating that statement as a mandatory matter is not the same thing as permitting the religious to express their beliefs. It’s compelled speech for the non-religious. It’s a denial of the pluralistic nature of the populace and the officer corps of our military. It’s a governmental endorsement of religion over non-religion.

      This isn’t an accommodation of religion. It’s a privileging of religion. Let us hope the proposal is not reported out of Congress and matters can remain where they ought: religious cadets can confirm their oaths with the reference to God as they wish in fulfillment of their rights as Americans, and the oaths of each and all of the cadets can stand on their individual and collective honor.

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    • “To many conservatives and other traditionalists “Freedom of Religion” is a collective right as opposed to an individual right precisely because the practice of religion is an inherently communal activity. To them, religious liberty isn’t so much about the rights of every individual to freely express and practice their belief’s so much as it’s about the right of the community to establish certain cultural norms and binding rituals.”

      Wow. That’s really helpful. I suspect you’re right. I’d like to see a longer essay on this…

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  20. : I’m going to assume you don’t know me or my background, because if you did you would not say something to so offensive to me. I am gay. I married my husband legally in Minnesota in 2013. I’ve been in situations before we were legally married where I didn’t know if I could see Daniel in the hospital. So,please do not make me out to be a monster that would allow my fellow LGBT Americans to not be able to see a doctor. When I talk about making accomodations, I am saying it should be like what took place in Utah.

    You will not talk like that to me ever again.

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    • My apologies. is the biggest asshole commenter here and his partisanship has led to a physical condition that has kept his head planted firmly in his ass. Personally, I’m disgusted at the fact that the best he could contribute to this conversation was to ascribe bad motives to you. Then again, with respect to him, I suffer from the soft bigotry of low expectations.

      That was a disgusting thing to say to you especially given your personal situation. If he had any class, he’d apologize, but don’t count on it.

      Sorry…just calling it like I see it.

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  21. , you keep asking why LGBT people can’t make accommodations like they did in the Utah case. But I think it’s important to point out that the Utah law is the end of a story that began very much like this Indiana incident.

    Because the Utah law only happened after the massive vocal condemnation of Mormons that occurred in the fallout from Proposition 8.

    Now, I happen to think that Mormons got a bit more flak for that than they deserved. Lots of people were looking for someone to blame in the wake of Prop 8, and it was a lot easier to blame racial minorities and fringe religions than to recognize that your next-door neighbor voted to strip gays of their marriage rights. But while the volume of criticism directed at the LDS church was a bit much, the charges themselves were generally spot-on.

    And Mormons were overwhelmingly horrified by that reaction. They, obviously, didn’t see themselves as the badguys, and couldn’t understand why so many other people did. They had waged this war against the cartoon stereotype in their heads without realizing that they were doing real harm to real people. They were incredibly invested in “being nice” and “agreeing to disagree” and were shocked to learn that nice isn’t good, and that being polite as you oppress someone doesn’t earn you any brownie points.

    So they did a lot of much-needed soul searching. And in doing so, they reached out to the LGBT community and began to develop an understanding of the real struggles that LGBT individuals face. The bill that Utah passed reflected an understanding of those struggles, and the ways in which those with anti-gay religious beliefs can continue to hold those beliefs without harming LGBT individuals.

    But they needed that initial shouting to get them there. That shock discovery that you’re not the good guy (even if you’re not, precisely, the bad guy), and the realization that you can’t just be anti-gay and expect gay people and their allies to be supportive of that. And it seems like that’s the stage Indiana is in right now.

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  23. Utah is a special case. A linguistic map of the US shows a northern dialect in New England and New York, places like Wisconsin, a couple of southern dialects from Virginia to Texas, and the rest of the country a common speech stretching from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. Except for Utah, where the people talk like people from New England or Oregon, and think somewhat like them. That should remind us that Mormons came from the New England/New York area, like Christian Scientists and Spiritualists, not from the frontier regions which spawned the evangelical sects. And Utah was the only state where a large segment of the population favored civil unions, not gay marriage or no recognition for gays at all.

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