TPM Cafe: Opinion

Amid all the backlash and backpedaling that has followed the signing of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, there’s one important perspective that has gotten lost: Christians who believe that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong, and who oppose discrimination against gay people—both on religious grounds.

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To be a Negro in this country is really… never to be looked at. What white people see when they look at you is not visible. What they do see when they do look at you is what they have invested you with. What they have invested you with is all the agony, and pain, and the danger, and the passion, and the torment — you know, sin, death, and hell — of which everyone in this country is terrified.” –James Baldwin

The first time I learned about lynching was when I was 19 years old and I had just heard “Strange Fruit” for the first time.

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During the furor over Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law, the debate has been haunted by some not-too-distant memories of the last time rapid social change encountered an embattled conservative population placed on the defensive. Yes, it enrages today’s religious conservatives to hear their demands for a zone of “conscience” in which they may choose to exempt themselves from antidiscrimination laws with similar demands a half century ago. But the parallels cannot be wished away.

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There’s been an amazing backlash against the new law in Indiana, signed by Gov. Mike Pence, that appears to give business owners broad rights to discriminate against LGBT people by citing “religious freedom.” The backlash is so rampant that Pence has already started dodging and weaving and pretending that this bill has nothing to do with gay people, even though, when he signed it, he made sure to surround himself with anti-gay activists so you know that’s exactly what this is all about.

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With all the handwringing that goes on over the “hookup culture,” you would think that the youngest adult generation—so-called “Millennials”—have all shunned the restraints of longterm monogamy and instead are skipping through one casual encounter after another. But new research from the Public Religion Research Institute on Millennial attitudes on sexuality complicates that narrative quite a bit. If anything, the answers the survey respondents gave to the questions seem rather traditional. Not only did 71 percent of Millennials say that marriage is still a relevant institution, but 37 percent agreed that “sex between two adults who have no intention of establishing a relationship” is morally wrong. Another 21 percent said it depended on the situation.

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The next few weeks mark America’s annual ritual of academic handwringing: elite college admissions. Universities will begin mailing out acceptances and rejections to hopeful students across the country. For some parents, entry into their child’s coveted school will bring a sigh of relief, while others will view rejections as a referendum on their success as a parent and their child’s chances of a good future.

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Last fall, the extreme wing of Colorado’s anti-abortion movement believed they had the perfect vehicle for finally declaring “personhood” at the moment an egg is fertilized. Dubbed the “Brady Amendment,” activists cited the emotional story of Heather Surovik, a mother who lost her baby just weeks prior to his due date after she was hit by a car driven by a drunk driver.

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You could be excused for not noticing that the International Criminal Court just elected an all-female presidency—the news, after all, did not garner many headlines. Given the continuing under-representation of women in positions of leadership and power throughout the world, however, we might do well to pay more attention.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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