So the state of Indiana has adopted a new non-religious “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA). The national media has come unglued with coverage every five minutes. “Breaking News,” you know. Corporations and governors and millions of individuals are threatening to boycott the state. Human rights groups are up in arms. Why? Why now?
What’s curious about all this attention is Indiana is the 20th state to put this garbage on the books. It ain’t new! And this. The National Council of State Legislatures says 13 other states have it in process. And this. Forty percent of the states have done it or something similar. And this. The federal government, too! Feds call it “Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
RFRA was enacted in 1993 - signed by Bill Clinton - but was successfully challenged in 1997 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states wouldn’t have to comply. So, over the next few years, some states wrote their own.
But the dam broke a couple of years ago when the billionaire-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sent out “sample” legislative bills so no one in the states would have to think too hard. Just fill in the blanks. Went by a lot of names but the guts were the same.
In our Northwest backyard, Idaho Republican bigots made the list of 20 with electronic copying (Idaho Code §73-402). Oh, there was local muttering from folks who could see this discriminatory trash for what it was. But the national media - the folks who’re now bombarding us with minute-by-minute updates - didn’t say “squat.” “What the Hell - it’s just Idaho. Again.”
Checking the list of 20 entities who’ve decided to discriminate “legally,” more than half are in the “bible belt.” All 20 - all - Republican-dominated. Though Arizona’s effort was repealed in 2014 after a lot of economic pressures were brought to bear - including playing the Super Bowl - the bill was passed and made law in 2012 so it made the list. New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma are the only other western states among the 20.
Aside from the obvious targeting of gay and lesbian Americans in this trash, the thing that makes it so insidious is that it leaves the “discriminator” free to invent any sort of excuse to do his/her discriminating. You don’t have to be LDS or Presbyterian or Catholic or Lutheran or Hindu or anything else. You can just claim providing goods and/or services violates “your beliefs.” Whatever the hell that means. Make something up. That’s your “out.” (more…)