Reprinted from Mike Malloy
March madness is in full force and there's no place hotter than Indiana, where the new pro-discrimination "religious freedom" law is drawing fire from all sectors -- from the NCAA to the local PTAs. And not for nothing.
Despite furious rationalization by Governor Mike Pence and local Neocon politicos who insist the law was designed to protect the civil rights of the LGBT community, these hypocritical Hoosiers cannot deny the language in the law opens the door to legalized bigotry.
And yet, as the Huffington Post reports, the state Republicans are in a state of shock over the "misconception" of their latest little law:
"Indiana's Republican leaders said they were shocked, confused and completely caught off-guard by the backlash to their new 'religious freedom' law, telling reporters Monday that they had not expected criticism calling the measure anti-gay.
"'I don't think anyone anticipated that the characterization of the bill would be, this denies to services to a specific class to Hoosiers. It does just the opposite. It includes all Hoosiers in the religious freedom standard. And it's a misperception that it denies services,' said Indiana state House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) during a Monday morning press conference with Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R).
"Long acknowledged that the GOP-controlled legislature did not work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups on crafting the language of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because the lawmakers didn't think the bill would affect that community. 'The reason we didn't is because this law doesn't discriminate against anyone,' he said. 'If we thought it did, we would have dealt with that. We don't believe it does.'"
They can't be serious. Every right wing anti-gay hate group has been heralding this bill as the thing that will finally, once and for all, allow businesses to refuse services to gay folk and same-sex couples. And are they oblivious to the backlash in Arizona after their misguided legislators attempted the same nightmare last year? How bad was that? Bachmann-wannabe Gov. Jan Brewer actually vetoed the bill after the national outrage. Mike Pence ... not so much. He signed the bill Thursday.
And, no offense, but why does "religion" need government protection? Are religious persons somehow prevented from practicing their faith? And what about separation of church and state, what business is it of the state government to legislate anything about religion?
Nevertheless, Pence took to the Sunday talk shows yesterday to defend the law, stalwartly maintaining that this law was simply misunderstood.
On ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos asked Pence if the law allowed businesses like florists to refuse to work with gay or lesbian weddings, as critics have said, the governor said the situation has more to do with whether the government is involved.
"'The question here is if there is a government action or a law that an individual believes impinges on their religious liberty, they have the opportunity to go to court, just as the Religious Freedom and Reformation Act that Bill Clinton signed allowed them, to go to court and the court would evaluate the circumstance under the standards articulated in this act,' Pence said.
"Pence described the media coverage and opposition to the law as 'shameless rhetoric,' saying it strengthens the foundation of First Amendment rights rather than discriminates.
"'We're not going to change the law,' he said, 'but if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, than I'm open to that.'"
There are crucial differences between the national law and this abomination. And, as for the claim that it strengthens the First Amendment? Is that why the Duck Dynasty clan is giddy with glee?