Tuesday, March 31, 2015

1st Amendment Games in Indiana

Yes, indeed, we can be too clever for our own ends. We're seeing it now in Indiana, where the poorly drafted and worse defined Religious Freedom Restoration Act has blown up. The Republican legislature should be embarrassed but is not. The Republican Gov. Mike Pence (a POTUS hopeful) should claw back the openly discriminatory law, but won't.

On today's Left Ahead show, I went on about it all. Assuming it comes over, the player below should have the 19-minute show.

Foolish attempts at cleverness constantly backfire, and not only at dinner parties. The most common and to the worst effects must be politically. In this case, numerous major companies and non-profits are pulling back on investments there. I also predict that this debacle ends Pence's shot at being the GOP POTUS nominee. He has been pitching himself as the guy who can appeal to moderates, independents and conservative Dems as well as his own party. Forget it, Mikey.

I talked about the winger media lie that the IN law is the same as the Federal version and those in many other red states. I noted the major differences, and which made it unacceptable to so many people and businesses.

I also predicted that wingers in and beyond IN won't stop, even after what should be a most obvious failure. They did this with marriage equality and continue to do so, even with the wide, dark shadow of the pending SCOTUS ruling making all their anti-gay paranoia and lies moot. They shall continue until there is no legal option for deceit...and cleverness.

With same-sex marriage battle lost — waiting only for the SCOTUS cymbal clap in June, wingers are pig piling on a new ploy. In numerous states, legislatures are pretending to protect religious freedom from the inevitable and fearful persecution from dem damn gays.

I kicked around Indiana's worst-in-class blunders in trying this ruse.

POTUS hopeful, Gov. Mike Pence (R, of course) signed a bill into law that pretty much lets anyone for any reason discriminate against LGBT potential customers. Poorly disguised as protecting citizen's First Amendment rights to exercise religion, it instead is an atavistic license to ignore statutes, case law and morality.

Pence seemed to figure the Hoosier lawmakers were being oh, so clever in patterning the bill after the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Wrong there. The RFRA was yet another cowardly and ill-considered Pres. Bill Clinton effort to appease wingers.Yet Indiana's version is worse, even legislatively malignant.

I got into the concepts of balancing exercise of religion with both commerce and respect as required by federal law. We can be very sure Pence and his minions are having similar discussions following the nationwide blowback to Indiana's overreach.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I was wrong on gay marriage; thank heavens

With two common dumb comments we humans often make, one is from the jejune and the other from the lazy. The first is truly stupid and really inexcusable. That is to respond to a concept or fact in the air with, "I wasn't even born yet!" That, of course, is absolutely no excuse for ignorance, History does not start with your birth. When you discover an idea, event or technology you don't know, your job is to learn about that and be ready...and smarter than you were before.

The other even more of us succumb to using — "It's only common sense," or "Let's not reinvent the wheel." This is for when we are too lazy to think or analyze.

Almost invariably, when the words are, "It's only common sense," the real message is, "I have nothing. I'm making wild, unsupported assertions and don't want to be corrected or challenged."

The latest poll on same-sex marriage (NBC/Wall Street Journal) continues the findings of the seemingly inexorable trend toward national support for marriage equality. It also reminds me of the frailty of my judgment and forecasting on the whole matter.

The gist is that 59% of us favor same-sex marriage, 33% oppose and 8% waffle. Only Republicans who identify with the Tea Party are strongly opposed. The WSJ video heads discussing this reckoned that this has been the fastest, most decisive cultural shift ever, much more so than changing attitudes about interracial marriage.

The personal messages here for me are not in any shifting support. Long before MA's Goodridge decision, I was a champion for marriage equality. Instead, I had it dreadfully wrong — in two ways — about how fast we'd get there as a nation.

First, I fell into that common-sense trap. When VT allowed civil unions and then MA full marriage, it was patently obvious to me that the Chicken Little doomsayers would have to reverse themselves quickly. The anti-gay sillies went on about such unions "redefining marriage," a misinformed concept. With great confidence, many of them predicted chaos at city halls, draconian prosecution and persecution of the clergy, and wholesale abandonment of the institution by straight couples.

One would think when absolutely none of those occurred in the first two years, five years, decade of marriage equality here would first admit their errors, perhaps with relief and empathy. Second, we might suppose they would work with the new reality. After all, virtually all religions, including all flavors of Christianity, have a version of the golden rule. As the Talmud so perfectly puts it, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is all the law. The rest is commentary."

I can slap my forehead. I honestly believed that the success of MA and then this state or that with same-sex marriage would convert the haters or at the very least stifle them. Of course, that didn't happen. Even though their numbers dwindle, the anti-gay/anti-same-sex marriage minions snarl and howl. They have been reduced to saying, "Well, it hasn't happened yet, but just you wait." Claudicated reasoning.

On the other hand, after I finally accepted that the march toward marriage equality would be slow and fitful, I fell into a pit limbo. I said and wrote, here, at Left Ahead, and elsewhere that the U.S. was 10 or even 20 years away from equality.

Well, the obvious to me was wrong, very wrong, again. Progress has been extremely fast. I now expect a favorable SCOTUS ruling this spring or summer, wiping the legal restrictions if not cleansing the evil hearts of all Americans.

I don't have to get into how wong I was on both counts. My record is on the tubes. I simply revel in where we have arrived.