Gov. Mike Pence’s duplicity

images (9)Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is making herculean efforts to portray Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law as a clone of laws enacted by Congress and other states, and supported by prominent Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

It’s a con job.

Those laws apply only to government and are designed to protect religious minorities from intrusive government actions such as, “Subjecting people to mandatory autopsies when their religion forbade it, zoning churches out of residential areas or government dictating the architecture of churches” (CBS News).  They weren’t intended to, and didn’t, authorize or sanction discrimination against classes of people.

The Indiana law does exactly that.

It’s not aimed at government intrusion into private religion. Rather, it gives businesses and private individuals a legal shield against discrimination lawsuits. And the intent of its legislative supporters, and of the governor who signed it into law, is made manifest by their — and his — refusal to support a law that would add gays to the protected classes under Indiana’s anti-discrimination laws.

Even though gays lack such protection under Indiana’s state laws, a number of Indiana cities have included sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination ordinances. This law would effectively nullify those local laws, and is intended to; that’s why it was enacted. Gov. Pence is, in fact, supporting legalization of discrimination against gays in his state and is lying when he pretends otherwise.

This was manifest on Sunday when, on national TV, he refused six times to answer “yes or no” questions put to him by TV journalist George Stephanopolous asking whether that’s what the Indiana law is for. Pence also wouldn’t give a straight answer to the question of whether he would support extending Indiana’s anti-discrimination laws to gays. “That’s not on my agenda,” he said. Translated into English: He and his party don’t want such a law, and not only wouldn’t they support it, they would oppose it — because they want to give anti-gay bigots legal immunity from discrimination lawsuits.

Not to be overlooked is who Pence invited to the bill signing ceremony — a motley collection of bigots and homophobes. And, the signing was private, “closed to the public and the press,” according to USA Today — not what a governor does when he’s being above board, but exactly what you’d expect from a skulking, scheming politician doing something underhanded.

The world isn’t buying Pence’s misleading statements or smoke-and-mirrors evasions. Numerous companies, organizations, and prominent personalities are seeing right through it, and are condemning Indiana’s Republican governor and lawmaker. They understand this law for what it is — legalizing discrimination against gays. And they’re having none of it.

Update: Evidence continues piling up that Indiana’s Republican legislature and governor knew exactly what they were doing when they legalized discrimination against gays. The latest exhibit: A letter on Columbia University School of Law letterhead, signed by 30 law professors including 12 from Indiana, warning the law they were about to pass would promote

“private actors, such as employers, landlords, small business owners, or corporations, taking the law into their own hands and acting in ways that violate generally applicable laws on the grounds that they have a religious justification for doing so.”

 Now, these cowards are trying to deny both the effect of the law they passed, and their intent in passing it, while at the same time steadfastly refusing to “clarify” it by extending coverage under Indiana’s anti-discrimination laws to gays. Like cockroaches hiding under a sink, these bigots lack the courage to be honest about their bigotry. Maybe because they realize, instinctively if not overtly, that bigotry is wrong?

Popular author Stephen King, who you could say has a way with words, put it this way:

“Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration act is gay discrimination, pure and simple. You can frost a dog turd, but it’s still a dog turd.”

This law is one of the most dishonorable things any American state has done since Jim Crow and segregation days.

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