Oh, North Carolina. We haven’t forgotten you. We know you are down there in the south, and we know that your bigots are just as bigoted as the bigots from other southern states. Perhaps even more bigoted, since your bigots may realize that thanks to population demographics and the open access to information provided by the internet, bigots just aren’t raising enough little bigots to replenish the bigot pool, resulting in a steady decline in bigot population, a trend that has hit North Carolina particularly hard. Hard enough turn the state purple*, with Obama claiming North Carolina’s electoral votes in 2008. Of course, thanks to the combination of gerrymandering** and single-representative districts***, North Carolina could turn a deep blue and the GOP could still control the state congress for close to a decade.
Yet even as the bigot well runs dry and bigoted parents discover how hard it is to raise little bigots when their children can access information freely, state legislatures proudly let their bigot flags fly, pausing in their quest to pass the most condescending and misogynist law dealing with women’s health care to take up a new sacred quest; to pass the most bigoted law possible while obfuscating the purpose of the bill enough to maintain plausible deniability. First we had the state of Indiana with their version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, written with language broad enough to give businesses in the state a blank check when it came to discriminating against people because of their sexuality. When Indiana Governor Mike Pence (Go ahead, guess.) signed the bill into law no one really knew what was going to happen. The bill was obviously a homophobe’s wet dream**** and very unlikely to survive court challenges*****, but the possibility that there were enough far-right Christians with persecution complexes who would hold Gov. Pence up to be a hero made signing the bill an acceptable risk, at least to the Governor’s advisers. The swift and vicious backlash that greeted Gov. Pence’s signature was heartening, and yet another sign that when it comes to this particular issue, the culture war is over, with those on the right divided between those who are trying to save some face as they surrender, and those who will fight a hopeless war until they die of old age.
Louisiana’s legislature, who was previously debating a similar bill, saw the backlash it caused in Indiana, not only from the left but also from the business right, and decided they would be in the “surrender while saving some face” camp. Hilarious cartoon character/person who once said Republicans have to stop being “the stupid party,” Governor Bobby Jindal instead decided to continue debasing himself in any possible way to court the far right base of the GOP and receive the nomination for President in 2016****** by telling the legislature to suck it and declaring the bill law by executive order, then daring businesses to boycott Louisiana.
And now we have North Carolina, where the legislature passed a law that would allow state employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses by citing their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The bill allows magistrates and other officials to refuse to perform marriages or issue marriage certificates by citing a “sincerely held religious objection.” Once they have asked to opt out in writing, magistrates would be barred from performing any marriage, gay or heterosexual, for six months.
Republican Governor Pat McCrory, after witnessing the backlash in Indiana and the sad, strange actions of Gov. Jindal, wisely decided he didn’t want any part of any of this, and vetoed the bill. The state legislature, determined to get some of that good old backlash for themselves (all the better to paint yourself a martyr for Christianity next election), set about overriding the Governor’s veto, defending the law with well-reasoned arguments such as:
Senate leader Phil Berger said the bill struck a balance between the legal ruling that allowed same-sex marriages to begin in the state last year and the rights of state employees to exercise their religion.
“If the federal courts say they will be performed, they will be performed,” Berger said before Monday’s vote. “But if someone takes a job, they don’t park their First Amendment rights at the door. They are entitled to exercise those rights.”
*sigh* Religious freedom does not give you the right to take a job and refuse to perform the duties of the job because they violate your religious freedom. You still have freedom of religion. You can quit, and then no one will ever make you marry teh ghays. A Muslim can not get hired as a butcher then refuse to cut up pork. This is one of the most insulting arguments the culture war has given us, and that is really saying a lot. Be it pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, clerks refusing to issue the license, or magistrates refusing to perform the marriage, “religious freedom” laws like this share one thing in common; even the people supporting the law don’t really think the people should actually have the freedom the law gives them. No, the laws are set up as last ditch efforts to trick the law into allowing their bigotry to continue, without anyone ever following the law to its logical conclusion. Sure, they think it is a great idea when Christians get to deny some queers their marriage license, or refuse to fill some harlot’s slut pills. But what happens when that pharmacist decides that sex is only for procreation, according to his sincerely held religious beliefs, and he stops filling all Viagra scripts for men over fifty? What if he decides herpes sores are part of God’s punishment and puts Valtrex on the unprescribable list? Hell, what if he converts to Christian Science and just refuses to fill prescriptions? Okay, that last one was a bit “slippery slopy,” so on to the marriage license. How long until someone refuses to wed an interracial couple, citing their religious beliefs? Remember, Judge Bazile of Loving V. Virginia fame defended laws against interracial marriage based on religious belief.
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents…. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
Or how about when the first previously divorced person gets refused? The first couple from different religions? I know North Carolina is only doing this because of teh ghays, but bigots gonna bigot. And even ignoring all of the countless problems that could spring up from this law as a result of differing interpretations of Christianity, what about the slack-jawed look of disbelief on legislators faces the first time a non-Christian decides to avail himself of these brand spanking new rights? This law would do more to bring Sharia law to North Carolina that any Muslim over the last fifty years. Of course, Christians always forget about the other religions when they get all religious freedomy for some reason, perhaps because they have a different version of the Constitution that declares us a Christian nation.
So which state will be the next to attempt to use religious freedom to legalize a form of bigotry, and if the N.C. House succeeds in overturning the veto, what will be the reasoning behind the first unintended refused marriage? Watch this space!
*Not claiming that Republicans are bigots. In fact, if you look at the backlash in Indiana, I think it is obvious that the majority of Republicans are not bigoted, just willing to use any methods possible to win. I don’t think they adopted the Southern Strategy because they were racist, rather that they adopted the Southern Strategy because it allowed them to ride the bigots to victory. Honestly, I feel this way for most social issues. If it would get them the ability to eliminate the capital gains tax, slash taxes on the wealthy, and bomb whoever they decided needed bombing, most Republicans would be pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, anti-gun atheists. Which is somehow more depressing than if they were just all bigots.
**I live in Pennsylvania, a state with a Democratic Governor, that votes Democratic for President, and has one current Democratic senator, yet the GOP holds a 118 to 82 advantage in the House and a 30-19 advantage in the Senate. We know gerrymandering.
***Ah, Single-representative districts, the one thing I will fight against in government for as long as I draw breath, no matter which party is in control. If the Republican (or the Democrat) wins my district 51% to 49%, how is it democratic for the losing 49% to be told “sorry.” Not only does it leave a huge portion of the population unrepresented, but it also effectively kills the vast majority of third party candidates. There are many possible solutions for this issue. My personal favorite is just combining some districts into larger super-districts and holding the elections. Then, instead of winner take all, we have the top three or four (or whatever) elected. So instead of an election ending like this: Bush (R) 50.1% Winner Vs. Kerry (D) 49.9%. we would instead have something like Bush (R) 27% Kerry (D) 26% Douglas (I) 21% George (G) 11% Santorum (R) 10% Huckabee (R) 5% with the top three elected. Sure, some portion of the electorate would still be voting for a loser, but a much higher percentage would have representation with this system, and third party candidates would find themselves instantly much more electable. Not saying my way is the way to go, just that practically anything would be better than the system we have now.
****My apologies. Everyone knows that a homophobe’s wet dream is actually kneeling in front of a naked Kit Harrington, looking up at him shyly, and saying “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” before consummating the fuck out of that relationship.
*****Of course, after Hobby Lobby and Citizens United, who the fuck knows what the Supreme Court is going to do? The only thing predictable is that the ruling will be 5-4. Ah, the classic 5-4 decisions, just more proof that this once respected judicial body is nothing but a partisan train wreck.
****** Made even sadder since I have more of a chance of securing the GOP nomination than Jindal does. Yep, keep slobbering on those conservative Christian cocks, Bobby. One day you will look back on all of this, remember your statements after the 2012 election about how the GOP had to stop being the stupid party, and realize that you could have taken the lead in moving the party into the 21st century, saving the GOP from the reactionaries and bigots who want to turn the clock back to the 1950’s if not earlier rather than spending 4 years destroying your political legacy sucking the cocks of far right Christian conservatives who will never trust you thanks to your degree, and will never nominate you because……well, because…. Just look in the mirror, Gov. All you will ever be to the base is that funny looking Governor who swore he would never do a bukkake scene, yet ended up on his knees the second the base said “all potential nominees must do bukkake.” In the end, they will pat you, Carson, and Fiorina on the head, wish you all better luck next time, and nominate a white man for President. All you will get out of the deal is a glazed face.
Is it really worth it?