As we see with dying brands and companies (Blackberry) and even political ideas, when things start to go really bad there’s often a late spasm of what we now call (some of us tongue-in-cheek) rebranding. And with the galloping successes of pro-equality legislation picking up steam, we’re seeing something very similar on the anti-LGBT right. The most prominent Dylan Scott chronicles here in the series of states introducing laws aimed at rebranding hating gay people as “religious freedom.”
We also have this Republican running for Congress in Nevada claiming that LGBT anti-discrimination laws are a step back to the days of Jim Crow. You can read here to find out how he manages to make that argument.
It’s easy to laugh at these arguments or alternatively be outraged by them. But the real take away is that they are arguments of desperation and defeat, ones that buy into the language of rights and equality they are actually trying to oppose.
Again, annoying – perhaps outrageous – but more importantly also difficult to make effective.
What strikes me most is how marginalizing they are. Southern Neo-Confederates and white supremacists also largely gave up at least the explicit language of white supremacy opting instead to rebrand themselves as another minority group – albeit one that makes up a majority of the population – interested in protecting its ‘heritage’, group rights and standing up for its rights over and against the rights pressed for by African-Americans.
Something similar is going on here – only the guise is the separate rights of religious people, if only the minority of religious people who see hating gay people as a cornerstone of their religion.
It also shows Republicans’ continuing inability as a party to get out of under aggressive culture war postures where they are now clearly on the losing side.