The Godly Oppressors

Amidst the troubling and problematic trends in recent years has been the tendency of Christian conservatives to self-righteously declare themselves the victims and then support insanely discriminatory laws targeting gay people.

Witness, Kansas’ unfortunate drive to implement Jim Crow:

To put this simply, the Kansas House has just endorsed a comprehensive system of anti-gay discrimination. If it becomes law—which isn’t unlikely, given Republican control of the statehouse and governorship—it will yield a segregated world for gays and their allies, as they are forced to use businesses and other services that aren’t hostile to them.

When asked about the bill, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback toldThe Topeka Capital-Journal that “Americans have constitutional rights, among them the right to exercise their religious beliefs and the right for every human life to be treated with respect and dignity.” The question is whether he thinks this applies to gays.

Looking at this bill, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call it a close cousin—if not sibling—of Jim Crow (natch, for black gays and lesbians in the state, there’s little difference). Like its Southern predecessors, this proposal is meant to isolate and stigmatize a despised minority, under of the guise of some higher priority (“religious liberty”).

Scott Lemieux at The American Prospect has this to say about it:

“The sovereign,” as John Paul Stevens observed, “must govern impartially.” This bill is a direct shot at this basic principle of democratic governance. It is bad enough to permit private businesses to discriminate; to allow public officials to discriminate is even worse. As the Daily Beast‘s Jamelle Bouie puts it, “[a]mbulances can refuse to come to the home of a gay couple, park managers can deny them entry, state hospitals can turn them away, and public welfare agencies can decline to work with them.” Allowing state officials to deny services to same-sex couples is about as stark a designation of second-class citizenship as one can imagine short of bringing back George Wallace to deny gays and lesbians access to the University of Kansas.[snip]

The pretext for this rollback of civil rights is the protection of religious freedom. But the Kansas law makes clear how hollow and dangerous such arguments are. It’s worth noting here that we’re talking about secular businesses and state officials. Acting as individuals, people are free for religious (or any other reason) not to associate with same-sex couples or support same-sex marriage. But—whether motivated by religious belief or not—homophobic beliefs cannot trump the rights of people to use public accommodations on equal terms. These arguments were bad when they were used to oppose civil-rights legislation to protect African-Americans and women, and they’re no better in this context. For state officials to be permitted to deny services to citizens based on private religious beliefs is simply unconscionable.

Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly:

You don’t have to completely buy the Jim Crow analogy to understand that this legislation—a logical extension from the claims made for blanket exemptions for religious-based objections to laws in the Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby case on which the Supreme Court will hear arguments next month—is designed to carve out a separatist zone of immunity for people who are willing to say their hostility to homosexuality or to same-sex marriage is religiously motivated.  The fact that even public employees would share this immunity shows that it isn’t designed to protect a tiny group of wedding planners or cake-bakers from the horror of being expected to peddle their services to same-sex couples—the hypothetical on which much of the “religious liberty” argument is being pegged—but to sanction discrimination generally.

The bottom line – despite all the hue and cry about religious freedom – is that these laws exist for the sole purpose of humiliating, shaming, harming, and stigmatizing gay and lesbian persons.  The people supporting and passing them are emotional and moral infants, squawling at a world that terrifies them.

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on February 14, 2014 - 6:45 pm

    What is going to happen to these people when they actually have something to worry about?

    California is out of water. THAT is something to worry about.

    • #2 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2014 - 7:34 am

      Larry the folks who support these laws don’t do reality so California being out of water, or some other real world problem, doesn’t enter into their awareness.

    • #3 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2014 - 8:03 am

      Great article from the Kansas news – doubly nice for me as it includes a Grinnell connections. Rev. Herring is a grinnell grad.

  2. #4 by brewski on February 15, 2014 - 10:45 pm

    “We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it”
    Democrat Al Sharpton

  3. #5 by cav on February 16, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Pretty funny, really.

  4. #6 by brewski on February 16, 2014 - 10:38 am

    Except if a conservative had said anything remotely similar.

  5. #7 by cav on February 17, 2014 - 7:57 am

    I mean; where the bigotry ‘pops out’, especially in the face of the notion that one party or the other is good, righteous, yadda.

    Somewhere I’m sure there’s a ‘conservative’ expressing sane thought…it’s just not on the news for some reason – or, particularly rare.

    One thing’s for sure, the ‘corporate media’ isn’t a very good source of un-varnished truth. Too much investment in sponsors viewpoint.

  6. #8 by Larry Bergan on February 17, 2014 - 10:37 pm

    Somebody is going to have to start shipping water to California! There are a LOT of Americans there who are going to need water!

    Who are we?

  7. #9 by cav on February 18, 2014 - 8:06 am

    Here’s the priorities:

    Use the drinking water to spy on us.

    Use it to flush Book Cliff tar sands towards further disasters.

    Cool the ridiculous nuke plant proposed by the greed-heads.

    Top off the fountains in Las Vegas.

    Overshoot Las Vegas and douche Southern Californicate.

    Drink it, shower, water the garden.

  8. #10 by Larry Bergan on February 19, 2014 - 7:33 pm

    That’s a pretty accurate list there. :)

  9. #11 by cav on February 20, 2014 - 10:33 am

    California drought: Why farmers are ‘exporting water’ to China

    “A hundred billion gallons of water per year is being exported in the form of alfalfa from California,” argues Professor Robert Glennon from Arizona College of Law.
    “It’s a huge amount. It’s enough for a year’s supply for a million families – it’s a lot of water, particularly when you’re looking at the dreadful drought throughout the south-west.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26124989

  10. #12 by Larry Bergan on February 20, 2014 - 7:44 pm

    Incredible report cav.

    Jerry Brown has done wondrous things with the economy in California in a very short time, but I don’t know what he’s thinking by not putting a moratorium on projected fracking in that state.

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