27 February 2014

If the bad guys can't win in Arizona.....

Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona has vetoed SB1062, the proposed law which would have allowed businesses to discriminate against gays on religious grounds.  This was pretty much expected -- a formidable array of interests had turned against the bill, including the Arizona business community, the state's Senators (both Republicans), major national corporations, the NFL (the Superbowl is in Arizona next year), Major League Baseball, and even some of the state legislators who originally voted for the thing, though they claim they changed their minds because of it being misrepresented.  Limbaugh and others whined that the gays were "bullying" Brewer, but with so many others making the case, they hardly needed to bother.  Even the types who frequent RedState were divided (see comments).  The backlash was so fierce that Republicans in other states who had been pushing similar laws have started backing down.

This turnabout brings several observations to mind.

First, I'm once again amazed at how much public attitudes have changed in so short a time.  Don't forget that until 2003, just 11 years ago, homosexuality itself was still illegal in huge areas of the country.  Just a few years before that, except in a few cities, the gay movement was a fringe group in a society whose reactions ranged from uncomprehending disdain to mouth-foaming rants about "sin".  Now, even in a red state like Arizona, an anti-gay stance has become a massive economic liability as even large, mainstream entities like the NFL and prominent Republicans feel they have to take a public stand against it -- massive enough to sway a Governor (I assume no one thinks Brewer vetoed the bill because she's a closet liberal).  Americans now favor gay marriage 53% to 41% -- even in the South opinion is evenly divided, 48% to 48%.  20 years ago this would have been unthinkable.  If such an entrenched taboo can be so thoroughly repudiated in less than a generation, who can say what other changes in attitudes may be possible if we work for them?

(On an internet forum I read, one right-winger muttered darkly that "the pendulum always swings back".  I asked if he's still waiting for it to swing back on the issue of women having the vote.  Some changes are permanent.)

Second, the anti-gay side is still unable to coherently defend its position.  Sorry, but just calling discrimination "religious liberty" isn't an argument.  On the forum mentioned above, objections to protecting gays from discrimination were full of bad logic and failed analogies, such as "Does this mean a Muslim caterer could be forced to serve pork?"  (No, if they don't normally serve pork to anyone, it's not discrimination if they won't serve pork to you.  If they're asked to provide their normal catering services at a Jewish event, and they refuse because they don't like Jews, that is illegal discrimination.  The latter case, not the former, is analogous to the actual gay cases we've seen -- if wedding cakes are part of a baker's normal services, providing them to straight couples but not to gay ones is discrimination.)  I think in many cases they can't make a clear argument for their position because they can't be honest, even with themselves, about the motives for that position -- see this excellent post on the psychology of discrimination.

Third, there is a deeper level on which the fundies are losing just by waging this fight the way they're waging it, even if they seem to be winning a battle here and there.  What the public sees is that the fundies' great cause, the hill they're willing to die on, is their "liberty" to exclude and discriminate and reject -- that the desperately-important right they're fighting for is the right to push certain other people away and brand them unclean and inferior.  Even if you score a win for that right occasionally, you're still losing by presenting such an image of yourself.  This is a major factor driving the young away from religion, and turning the cultural mainstream against the Christian Right.

If they can't win a fight like this in Arizona, where in the country can they win it?  It used to be that the religious taboo on homosexuality made homosexuality socially unacceptable.  We're rapidly moving toward a society where that same taboo is, instead, making religious fundamentalism socially unacceptable.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

Even though I don't live in the US, much less Arizona, I was very happy to hear that that proposed bill had fallen through, partly because of how odious it was, but also because I spent about a week in Arizona during a trip to the States last year, and found it a nice enough place - I didn't want my memories of it to be tarnished by the news that it had implemented a piece of legislation that sounded a lot like the infamous old Jim Crow laws. (For some odd reason, I always find it hard to believe that Arizona is such a conservative state, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's so close to a liberal state like California? I don't know.)

My own attitudes towards gay people have certainly changed over the course of my life. When I was growing up in the '80s, I feared and hated them, mainly because of the way the media back then seemed to portray them as all being riddled with AIDS (a disease that was very frightening back then, particularly to a kid). I think what began changing my own feelings towards them was having my best friend at the time come out to me (which, in retrospect, was probably very brave of him given the aforementioned attitude of mine!); in any event, by the time I'd finished school, my old homophobia seemed to have become a distant memory.

27 February, 2014 02:52  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Zosimus: Obviously many people have changed their views over the years, otherwise society itself couldn't have changed so much. I've certainly been wrong about things and evolved! The only people who are unsalvageable are the ones who can never change their thinking regardless of the evidence.

27 February, 2014 08:25  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Sure as Hell alot more "detailed" on explaining this than I was on my posting concerning this issue, so Thanx for the read ... you pretty much know where I stand on this Infidel.

BTW, Thanx for the link read from that "Brains & Eggs" site back on 02/ 16/ 2014 concerning "voters MIA" in Texas ... that was pretty informative. And frankly I dont even know how "clear" TX Sen. Wendy Davis is on abortion, I never even questioned that to be honest, just assuming of course that she is pro- choice all the way. As you know she has got my support, "already" even, because I voted last week (saturday morning) in the Texas Dem Primaries. Also to my suprise since I'm here, since we here in Texas have these "new" voter ID restriction's ... I went with 3 other's at the voting poll's at a lil after 9am (all of us were voting 4 Wendy), we got in, there were only 4 other's there voting (I never seen it so empty ... and this is a fairly big and busy place usually, and voted at this place around this time several year's), but really the shocker to me, was that when I gave them my voting registration card, the guy told me I didnt even need to show it, only a drivers liscense ID would do, no question's, no check's on the computer or anything (no ... he didnt even check my bloody ID, just asked "is your address up to date?" ... I said "Yes Sir"), I was in and out in less than 15 minutes ... smooth and easy actually.

Later Infidel ....

28 February, 2014 06:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch: Thanks -- I've seen a couple of posts on other blogs arguing that the Christian Right really is cracking up, and that this veto marks a real red flag that their influence has crumbled.

I'm glad that the voting restrictions aren't enforced too onerously, but the acid test would be whether, say, a black woman voter would get through as easily (that is, the kind of voter they're aimed at).

28 February, 2014 07:19  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I dont know Infidel(?) ... I can tell you though that the man that checked me in was a black man, and the woman after that directed me to a booth to brief me was a black woman who were working there. 2 of the folk's that voted with me were Mexican American females and one white male ... they went through just as quick ... however ... the disappointing part Infidel, was like there wasnt hardly any damn one there to vote, which was unusual ... maybe since it's a primary, eh? ... I dont know.

28 February, 2014 09:44  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

The acceptance of the LGBT community into main stream America is probably one of the greatest changes I've seen in my life time.

That this has happened and that the odious bill in Arizona was vetoed is ample evidence of how progressive this country has become in the last 20 years.

Think about it:

A bi-racial president voted into office TWICE.

The elimination of DADT in the armed forces.

Greater and greater acceptance of equality in marriage throughout the states.

Loosening of marijuana laws.

Growing numbers of non-religious groups.

A program that allows more Americans to acquire health care coverage and to not be denied coverage because of limiting caps or pre-existing conditions.

We must not overlook what has happened in the last 5 years.

Progressive policies have made great, great triumphs.

There's more to be done vis-a-vis the environment, climate issues, world conflicts. But I see what has happened as a victory for progressives and a repudiation of the narrow-mindedness of the present conservative agenda.

28 February, 2014 18:52  
Blogger Tommykey said...

I was like Zosimus in the 1980's when I was in high school. I had a negative view of gays, thought that AIDS happened because they were doing things they weren't supposed to do, though I never participated in any bullying against gays. My attitudes changed in the early 90's, primarily because I abandoned the Catholicism in which I was raised, which took away the religious objection. I also volunteered at a crisis hotline where some of the other volunteers were openly gay. I became friends with some of them, which erased any remaining prejudices I had.

01 March, 2014 06:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch: That's encouraging.

Shaw: I actually think of it as "de-Christianization". Progressivism is an important part of that, of course.

Tommykey: Getting to know gay people as individuals seems to be the best cure for prejudice. It's much harder to go along with demonization of people you know.

03 March, 2014 06:35  

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