Inside the ‘Religious Liberty’ Debacle

I think we can now say with some confidence that the effort to rebrand anti-gay bigotry as ‘religious liberty’ has turned out to be a fairly epic debacle. Not just in Arizona where it’s now dead as legislation but in other states as well and even in the larger context of the evolving national conversation about equal rights and dignity for the LGBT community.

As we noted yesterday, as Brewer flew home from Arizona there was an almost comical run for the exits by various supporters and quasi-supporters trying to get out from under legislation that a growing body of people saw as silly, mean-spirited, economically damaging and completely needless. Brewer herself was compelled to say that she had yet to see a single instance of anyone’s religious liberty being violated.

The response from the supporters of the bill was even more notable. It might fairly be summed up as: The bill is awesome. But everybody’s been mean. And now no one understands. So, fine!

In other words, how losers talk. The liberals got everyone confused and now we’re sad.

Over the last 24 hours, a similar bill has been yanked by supporters in Ohio. Another similar bill in Mississippi got gutted in committee yesterday. Mississippi. It’s supposedly moving ahead – last we heard – in a few other states and bottled up in others.

All of this has to be seen in the context of a panicked rush on the part of the social/cultural conservative rump of the GOP to find an end-run, a parachute out or as I put it a couple days ago a form of individualized, a la carte nullification. But panicked reactions are not usually sound ones. We’re still in a case where a majority of the country, with all that entails, has suddenly found itself a minority of the country and is neither comfortable with that fact or has much sense what to do about it. It’s a volatile situation.

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