Jan 31 2014

Homophobic trash

Published by at 1:59 pm under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

“No one should watch sausage or laws being made.”
That old joke has been around for many, many years. It was probably funny when first used. But time and wide-spread law making incompetence have proven at least the second part of the phrase too often very unfunny. The latest example of that has cropped up in the Idaho Legislature.

Idaho is often called the nation’s “most red state.” It’s probably not. I’d call it a “mooshy crimson.” But the current, right wing edition of the Republican Party has been in nearly complete control for a long, LONG time and shows no signs of fading. Want to get your collie into Idaho politics? Call it a Republican and it’ll get elected to something.

Comes now proof that not all the players in the political game of Idaho legislative politics have 52 cards in their personal decks. This week’s award to someone a few cards short – who’s managed to wrap homophobia, paranoia and irrational thought into legislative sausage – is one Rep. Lynn Luker. Republican? Certainly. By today’s standard. Responsible and wise? Not by any measurement known to rational people.

In what he calls a “pre-emptive strike” for God-knows-what, Mr. Luker has scraped two bills off the sludge at the bottom of the legislative barrel – HB426-HB427 – deciding citizens of Idaho should stand squarely behind new laws codifying homophobia and discrimination. Absolutely. Put ‘em on the books.

One would keep the state from revoking any professional license if the licensee withholds services – or refuses services – on the basis of a “personally held religious belief.” So, if a cab driver cited “personal religious belief” for not transporting a gay couple in sub-freezing temperatures, said driver could just say “My religion keeps me from taking these people in out of the cold.” And that would be that. They might freeze to death by the side of the road, but the cabbie would – in his head – be square with God. And – in Mr. Lukerls world – the State of Idaho.

Luker’s other badly tarnished gem of ridiculousness is in a similar vein. It would amend the Idaho Religious Freedom Act to allow an employer to fire someone for being gay, then hide behind a claim of “religious belief.” “I can’t abide those people,” he/she could say. And that would be that.

Luker – who somehow has his own license as a lawyer – says he’s worried about the future and wants his legislation adopted now because “this is pre-emptive – the issue is coming.” He cited a Gresham, Oregon, baker sued because he wouldn’t bake a wedding care for a gay couple. And the New Mexico photographer who wouldn’t take pictures of a gay wedding, arguing “free speech” and some sort and “artistic freedom” – whatever that is in this instance.

Rep. Luker’s backup in this trashy effort is something called “Cornerstone Family Council Advocacy Group.” A spokesman for the “council” claims governments are increasingly passing or interpreting laws to “keep people from living their faith” – a double standard against people of “traditional religious faiths.”

Luker claims he wants to be fair. So he’s not trying to keep people from being fired if he/she deserves it. He just wants to make sure the bigot – er, employer – doing the firing doesn’t lose his/her professional license for doing so. Well, sure. That seems only “fair.”

If this trash became law, it would have quite an effect on a lot of Idahoans. The Bureau of Occupational Licences involves 29 occupations. We’re talking doctors, nurses, police, fire, teachers, real estate salespeople and on and on. A whole lot of folks.

Lots of really creepy things could happen. Suppose a friendly Realtor refused to show a lesbian a certain house because friendly Realtor doesn’t want that gay client moving into his/her neighborhood. Suppose a Muslim pharmacist wouldn’t fill a prescription for a Christian dying of cancer. Or, the barber that told a Hindu he’d have to go someplace else for his haircut or, a school principal fired a gay teacher for no other reason than some “religious belief.” Or, a Catholic landlord wouldn’t rent to Methodists. Or, a Pentecostal fishing guide wouldn’t guide for Mormons.

Oh, the worms would just keep falling out of the can on this. Big time!

My history of being around the Idaho Legislature goes back nearly 50 years. I remember a lot of very fine Republican men and women who gave honored service to the State. Democrats, too, when they were allowed to participate. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the people in all those years who might buy into this piece of garbage.

But that long experience tells me the current crop – when asked to do so – could easily exceed both fingers and toes. Whether there’s enough of them who’d get behind Luker is difficult to say. One would hope not. But to say it’s not certain, also makes quite a statement of how far the Idaho Legislature has fallen from assured responsibility of the past. Various editions have done some very un-responsible things in recent times.

As someone who’s seen both sausage and bad legislation made over the years, I’d vote to grind up Mr. Luker’s “handiwork” and drop it in the nearest landfill.

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