Update: fallout from Indiana's God Gave Me The Right To Be A Bigot law
So let's do an update on the fallout from Indiana's passage of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA, better described as the God Gave Me The Right To Be A Bigot law. I mentioned last week that the reaction was so furious that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, aka Gov. NotWorthAFarthing, was promising "clarifications" before the ink was dry on his signature.
And so came the clarifications, which actually went further than many expected, saying the law cannot be used to justify denying anyone service, employment, housing, and so on based on a variety of causes, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
Some criticized the fix because it did not involve adding sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes under Indiana's civil rights laws, meaning it is still legal to discriminate against LGBT folks in Indiana even with the fix. Personally, I have to disagree with those folks. While certainly the civil rights laws should be changed to include LGBT folks, a move to do it here would too easily be shot down as out of order because it's not germane to the particular legislation.
Plus, hey gang, this is progress. This is a win. Celebrate it, don't slam it. Build on it, build on the implicit recognition of the inherent wrongness of discrimination against LGBT folks that this "clarification" admits. Like the old civil rights song goes, "every victory brings another" so "carry it on."
In fact, it was a bigger win than just Indiana. The fallout extended to other states. Last week I mentioned that Montana had rejected a proposed ballot question on an RFRA likely because of what happened with Indiana's law.
Since then, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had previously said he would sign that state's own version of a God Gave Me The Right To Be A Bigot law, changed his mind and says he won't sign it until the legislature either recalls the bill and changes the wording or passes supplementary legislation to the same end.
What's more, the Georgia state senate overwhelmingly passed a similar measure, but after seeing what happened in Indiana and Arkansas, the state House of Representatives let it die. Gov. Nathan Deal said if people want to bring it up again in the next session, they would be well-advised to stick closely to the language in the original federal version of the law and to include an anti-discrimination provision.
And then there's the North Carolina legislature, which was set to consider an even worse version of a God Gave Me The Right To Be A Bigot bill. But with a new business coalition called Compete North Carolina forming to oppose the bill and the prospect of a major pushback from the state's important tech sector, legislative leaders are now sounding let's just call it noncommittal. Asked about the bill, state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger just said "It's been filed. A decision will be made as to whether or not we move it forward." State House Speaker Tim Moore said essentially the same thing.
So the win in Indiana has also meant wins in Montana, Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina. Those wins are not final, they might be thought of as at best the divisional title, not the World Series. But they are wins. And they are a demonstration of what I have been saying for some time: We may be losing in lots of ways, economically, socially, environmentally, in terms of privacy, but on this issue, justice will come.
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