"Religious Freedom" Bills Get Rightbloggers Dreaming of a Discrimination-Friendly America
When a few businesses complained that gays were forcing them to take wedding pictures and bake wedding cakes, several state legislatures considered laws that would bolster the right of God-fearing folks to refuse service to anyone their religion demanded, hint hint.
Rightbloggers cheered this opportunity to protect helpless hets like themselves from the homos who demand, contrary to the Founders' intent, to be treated like everyone else. And in the process they revived an argument most of you probably haven't seen since the early 1960s: The one about how having to serve a [fill in the blank] violates their civil rights.
The laws proposed in Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Idaho and elsewhere generally would strengthen state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) to further protect businesses that refused service to gay-marrying customers on religious grounds.
If you wonder why it should be okay to toss gay-marrying customers but not black ones, it's because the latter have Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects customers of public accommodations (like bakeries and flower shops) from discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin. Title II does not protect on the grounds of gayness, however, a loophole which these bills exploited.
Rightbloggers loved this loophole, and some of them hoped to widen it to include other people.
In the current controversy, rightbloggers separated roughly into two camps: Those who sought to convince readers that just because they wanted businesses to be able to turn gays away didn't mean they were against anti-discrimination laws, at least in the abstract; and those who forthrightly said hell yes, I'm against anti-discrimination laws.
Not a lot of religious-liberty-law cartoons -- guess the MSM has got this one locked up tight! -- so here's an oldie but goodie, via.
On the what-discrimination tip, rightbloggers who aren't normally impressed by letters from experts were very impressed indeed by a letter from a "bipartisan group of  law professors" who supported the Arizona bill, which Governor Jan Brewer would eventually veto, on the grounds that it had been "misrepresented" as anti-gay.
"SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons," read the letter in part. "It says that business people can assert a claim or defense under RFRA, in any kind of case (discrimination cases are not even mentioned, although they would be included), that they have the burden of proving a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them has the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona make the final decision." And then they can discriminate for religious reasons -- or sooner, if the person they threw out of their store doesn't have the time or resources to sue.
Some of the brethren tried to bat away objections to the new laws by explaining, hey gays, you already have zero protection, get over it -- because the RFRAs already let people discriminate against you; we're just making it official.
"Despite hysterical claims that SB 1062 would have 'legalized discrimination in Arizona," sniffed Brandon McGinley at The Federalist, "you may be surprised to learn that sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes in Arizona. Which is to say, except in Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Tucson, which include those traits in local ordinances, it's already legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Arizona [emphasis McGinley's]." Hurray!
Gays aren't feeling the force of that law already "because Arizona isn't full of hordes of cackling Christians plotting an LGBT apartheid state," asserted McGinley proudly. Which presumably is why Arizona needed a new law: to make such a thing easier to accomplish.
Alas for McGinley, Brewer vetoed the law, over which he was very sore, as was Fox News' Todd Starnes, who tweeted that Brewer was making "Christians in her state second class citizens" -- the gays presumably being first class citizens, to whom the Christians would now have to pay the jizya, if you know what we mean.
In fact, as the state bills failed to get traction, rightboggers got less instructional and more grumpy, which makes sense -- here they'd been defending freedom from homosexuals, and suddenly even Republicans and chambers of commerce were turning against them.
"Freedom of conscience is squashed under the jackboot of liberals, all in the Orwellian name of 'equality and fairness,'" snarled Tammy Bruce, a self-identified "gay conservative woman." "...Horribly, the gay civil rights movement has morphed into a Gay Gestapo." She must be fun at parties.
As you might imagine, religious rightbloggers, who are perhaps more likely than most to imagine themselves telling a gay couple to get out of their store, were most outraged of all when the Arizona bill fell.
Terry Mattingly of Get Religion explained that liberals were The Real Bigots™ because they wouldn't stand up for Christians' right to say we don't serve your kind here. "Now we hear from some of media's biggest elites," quavered Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist, "that transcendent freedoms are to be obliterated in favor of individual liberties, and that opposition to this notion is the real enemy." Also, she said, the press "loathes and works actively to suppress" religious liberty, though it is the basis of their own liberty, for some perverse reason probably diabolical in origin. The proof: They constantly refer to the Arizona bill as "anti-gay." Like they had anything to do with it!
Some looked on the bright side, i.e. on their own martyrdom. "As my side is destined to lose here," raved Some Guy at RedState, "I feel it's a good idea to leave this as a marker so that the other side understands why their grandchildren, insofar as they have them, will be an oppressed underclass in the Republic of Texas under my incredibly numerous descendants. I would like to explain why it's so important for Christians to be able to refuse to do work to advance gay 'marriage' and everything that goes with it." And if he catches one of his Quiverfull watching Glee, out into the gay storm he goes!