In his excellent post about the “insane” reaction to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), John argues that the brouhaha is entirely political. Liberals, John says, “have decided that the social issues are winners for them, and one suspects that they are desperate to distract attention from the Obama administration’s economic and foreign policy failures, Hillary Clinton’s prevarications, and so on.”
John may well be right. However, polling strongly suggests that the RFRA issue is not a winner for the left — not yet, anyway.
Ramesh Ponnuru calls attention to two polls. In the first poll, Marist finds that 65 percent support letting businesses withhold wedding services from same-sex couples. In the second, an AP poll found a 57 percent majority for the same position.
I believe that the “insanity” in Indiana and elsewhere is being driven by the gay rights movement for ideological reasons. The left signs on primarily because it loves to push people around, especially non-liberal Christians who run small businesses. The Democrats sign on because a great many are leftists and, in any case, the party feels the need to stand behind a core part of the base.
I’m more sympathetic to gay rights advocates who like to push opponents around than to non-gay leftists who go along for the ride. Most gays have experienced hateful forms of discrimination. Overreaction is understandable. This doesn’t excuse the current over-reaching, but it provides a sympathetic explanation.
But the world doesn’t revolve around gay rights — they are but one legitimate issue competing in the public policy realm. Religious freedom, enshrined in our Constitution, is another.
The two considerations should be balanced. Americans are appalled by what is happening to small businesses like Memories Pizza because the gay rights movement and its left-wing backers take an unbalanced position.
The Memories Pizza case goes beyond “unbalanced” and “insane” into the realm of totalitarian. Here, sympathy must end.
Memories Pizza isn’t shut down now because of anything it did. It’s shut down because of what a daughter of the owner said. Crystal O’Connor was minding the restaurant’s business when a reporter asked her whether the business would serve pizza at a gay wedding, a ridiculous hypothetical. Memories Pizza has been punished for her answer.
The upshot is that any business owner in America (or his or her offspring) can be asked hypothetical questions about gay rights agenda items and, if they give the “wrong” answer, will be abused and perhaps run out of business. Even worse, we may not be far from a state of affairs when any employee in America can be grilled about gay rights. Give a wrong answer, and your employer can come under pressure.
Who will stand up to the increasingly totalitarian tactics of the gay rights movement and its leftist supporters? Religious Christians will, but doing so tends to result in being fined and/or forced out of business.
Republicans may or may not stand up. Mike Pence, a pretty strong conservative, is backing down.
Corporate America won’t. In fact, it seems firmly allied with the gay rights absolutists (history teaches that corporations are hardly a bulwark against totalitarianism, creeping or otherwise). This, of course, is why Republicans tend to back down.
John concluded his post with the old saying that “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” What frightens me is that, like the man to whom the saying is attributed, the gay rights movement and its allies seem to enjoy breaking the eggs. What frightens me more is that the majority, though appalled, may be powerless to stop the spectacle.