Freedom By Fiat, Or Who Will Save The Bigoted Bakers?

Louisiana’s version of Indiana’s now infamous”Religious Freedom” bill has died screaming in legislative committee, so Gov. Bobby Jindal is just going to declare it law anyway because EAGLE and MURICA.

“We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman,” he explained. “This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Proponents of the bill, including sponsor Rep. Mike Johnson (R), claimed that it had nothing to do with enabling discrimination against LGBT people. Nevertheless, he specifically cited the cases of florists, bakers, and event venues that have been punished in other states for refusing to serve same-sex couples as the reason the bill was necessary. Stephen Sabludowsky of Bayou Buzz highlighted some of other examples of discrimination that the provision seems to open the door to. “A doctor working at a state institution could not be fired by the state if the doctor refused to treat a same-sex couple,” he explained, nor could the state “take action against a teacher who refused to visit with the same-sex parents of a student.”

If your argument is literally “Well, we can’t allow the state to do anything about hating the gays because God,” then good luck winning the White House in 2016. Not that Bobby here had a chance in hell anyway, but he went ahead and made good on the threat late yesterday.

Please note that just a few months ago, Jindal attacked President Obama for issuing executive orders on immigration, calling the president “lawless”.  I guess that makes Jindal just as bad, but nobody in Republicanland will point that out.

No wonder that Jindal’s approval ratings in Louisiana are tanking hard, he’s down to that magic number of 27%, which actually puts him below President Obama in the state.

Funny how that works.

That Other Kentucky Horse Race

Republicans here in the Bluegrass State will be heading to the polls in two weeks to decide which GOP nutbar will get a crack at destroying the state’s wildly successful Kynect insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion.  So far, the polls have Louisville businessman Hal Heiner in the lead for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, ahead of KY Ag Secretary and Sudden hemp advocate James Comer, Cockfighting enthusiast and failed Senate candidate Matt Bevin, and That Other Guy Will T. Scott.

But things just got interesting with Comer waking up to this lovely story in the Louisville Courier-Journal this morning.

A woman who dated gubernatorial candidate James Comer while the two were in college said in a letter to The Courier-Journal on Monday that he was physically and mentally abusive to her during what she said was a two-year relationship.

“Did Jamie Comer ever hit me? Yes,” wrote Marilyn Thomas, who attended Western Kentucky University with Comer in the early 1990s.

Comer’s lawyer, Dick Plymale, of Lexington, said in an interview that Comer “profusely denies” all the allegations in the letter and promised a “devastating lawsuit” against the newspaper if it published the story.

Plymale went on to criticize Thomas, saying “I’ve heard unpleasant things about her personality and mental state.”

First of all, yes, Jim Comer’s lawyer is named Dick Plymale. Ruminate on that for a smidge.

Dick. Plymale.

Second, Comer is a spectacular asshole and all, and if these allegations are true, he’s even more of a spectacular asshole than I thought.

Of course, Hal Heiner is no prize either.

Republican candidate for governor Hal Heiner has apologized to fellow candidate James Comer after emails surfaced in a local newspaper linking a Heiner campaign associate with a blogger who has accused Comer of committing a crime while in college.

In a statement, Heiner personally apologized to Comer but did not admit direct involvement. He called the rumors “un-Christian” and said they were the worst kind of politics. Comer said he is disappointed with Heiner but said he is focused on winning the primary and uniting the Republican party.

And Bevin?  Well, Bevin’s gonna Bevin whenever possible.

Kentucky Gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin is challenging his three Republican rivals to participate in the “read or pie” challenge.

Donations support early literacy programs through “Read On”.

Bevin challenged them saying, “if you’re real men and care about the children of Kentucky, you’ll make a contribution and you’ll take a pie to the face. Now I will have one of my daughters do the honors”.

So far, we have only hear from Will T. Scott, who has already taken a pie to the face.

That also sums up Will T. Scott’s campaign, who has been in a distant fourth the whole time.

Democrats are running Attorney General Jack Conway, who has token opposition at best. So, November will come down to a Republican who wants to take health care away from 450,000 voters, and a Democrat who refused to defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

Which one is the bigger liability in Kentucky?  We’ll find out in six months.

Dr. King Was Seeking Creative Accommodation, You Know

So what have you got for me today, NY Times, from our nation’s best pundits on the situation in Indiana?

David Brooks, you say?

Like a purty girl dancin’ to Both Sides music, and a mess of Mom’s Bobo, mess of Mom’s Bobo, mess of Mom’s Bobo-cue.

If the opponents of that law were arguing that the Indiana statute tightens the federal standards a notch too far, that would be compelling. But that’s not the argument the opponents are making.

Instead, the argument seems to be that the federal act’s concrete case-by-case approach is wrong. The opponents seem to be saying there is no valid tension between religious pluralism and equality. Claims of religious liberty are covers for anti-gay bigotry.

This deviation seems unwise both as a matter of pragmatics and as a matter of principle. In the first place, if there is no attempt to balance religious liberty and civil rights, the cause of gay rights will be associated with coercion, not liberation. Some people have lost their jobs for expressing opposition to gay marriage. There are too many stories like the Oregon bakery that may have to pay a $150,000 fine because it preferred not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. A movement that stands for tolerance does not want to be on the side of a government that compels a photographer who is an evangelical Christian to shoot a same-sex wedding that he would rather avoid.

Furthermore, the evangelical movement is evolving. Many young evangelicals understand that their faith should not be defined by this issue. If orthodox Christians are suddenly written out of polite society as modern-day Bull Connors, this would only halt progress, polarize the debate and lead to a bloody war of all against all.

As a matter of principle, it is simply the case that religious liberty is a value deserving our deepest respect, even in cases where it leads to disagreements as fundamental as the definition of marriage.

Morality is a politeness of the soul. Deep politeness means we make accommodations. Certain basic truths are inalienable. Discrimination is always wrong. In cases of actual bigotry, the hammer comes down. But as neighbors in a pluralistic society we try to turn philosophic clashes (about right and wrong) into neighborly problems in which different people are given space to have different lanes to lead lives. In cases where people with different values disagree, we seek a creative accommodation.

Because of course the history of various civil rights movements in America is filled with “neighborly problems” solved with “creative accommodations” like fire hoses, billy clubs, dogs, armed National Guardsmen firing into crowds of students, firebombings, lynchings, and assassinations.

At no point is anyone trying to “write Orthodox Christians out of history” here, but it’s a nice little fantasy necessary for justification of “Hey you know what, gay people?  You should probably be nicer to Republicans making laws to be used against you, and they would probably stop it, just like Malcolm X played a friendly game of Parcheesi with the Dixiecrats to end Jim Crow in the South.”

I mean come on, history is replete, if not goddamn gravid with examples of the ruling class happily giving rights to oppressed minorities when asked really nicely. You guys, people have lost their jobs being mean to gay people. When will the madness end?

Puppies and rainbows can live in harmony and crap before it turns into a bloody war or something. Suck it up and accept some structural discrimination for a while and eventually it’ll stop, because it’s hard being a white Christian guy in a state like Indiana, you know.

Just get you some of that there respectability politics and a mess of Mom’s Bobo-cue.

Left, Go Right At The Right Over Rights

We’ve talked about Indiana’s “religious freedom” bill allowing people to not face penalties for discrimination against LGBTQ folks based solely on belief, so when similar legislation came up in front of the Georgia House of Representatives this week, one Republican bravely stood up and killed it with truth.

As in Indiana, proponents of Georgia’s bill have tried to argue that it has nothing to do with discrimination. Rep. Mike Jacobs, an LGBT-friendly Republican, decided to test this theory by introducing an amendment that would not allow claims of religious liberty to be used to circumvent state and local nondiscrimination protections. Supporters of the bill, like Rep. Barry Fleming (R), countered that the amendment “will gut the bill.” Nevertheless, the House Judiciary Committee approved the amendment with a 9-8 vote, three Republicans joining the Democrats in supporting it.

Fleming moved to table the amended bill, a motion that passed with 16 votes, making it unlikely the bill will proceed before the legislative session ends. With an exception for nondiscrimination protections, the “religious liberty” bill is dead.

Before the vote, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Josh McKoon (R), joined the hearing to similarly argue against making an exception for nondiscrimination protections. He claimed that the bill’s religious liberty protections would no longer be “uniform” across the state, adding, “That amendment would completely undercut the purpose of the bill.” Rep. Roger Bruce (D) pressed McKoon: “That tells me that the purpose of the bill is to discriminate.” Without further explanation, he countered, “It couldn’t be further from the truth, no sir.”

Well played, Mr. Jacobs.  Well played indeed.

Guns Don’t Kill People, Gays Kill People

Hey, did you know that gays were responsible for the UCSB shooter, a frustrated heterosexual obsessed with hetero pick up culture?

[…] [Ken] Blackwell blamed the shooting on “the crumbling of the moral foundation of the country” and “the attack on natural marriage and the family.”

“When these fundamental institutions are attacked and destroyed and weakened and abandoned, you get what we are now seeing,” Blackwell said, arguing that people who are “blaming the Second Amendment” are “avoiding talking about what is at the root cause of the problem.”

Ken Blackwell, a “senior fellow” at the hate group called the Family Research Council, used to be the Attorney General of Ohio, so he ought to know.

This guy is a professional hater, unlike, say, that Duck Dynasty guy or Cliven Bundy. Since he’s paid to hate, I don’t think criticizing him will turn him into a “hate martyr”, which is Josh Marshall’s term for those other two.