-- V For Vendetta
Yup, Peter is starting off with another V For Vendetta quote. You already know how this is going to go.
In 2014, Arizona drew national attention by passing Arizona SB 1062. According to the spin, the law was meant to protect the right to religious freedom as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. It excused people from having to do business with people and organizations that were counter to their held religious beliefs.
The reason I say, "According to the spin," is because the real motivation became clear in the days following its passage. See, the law was meant to shield businesses that wanted to discriminate against gays. How do I know this? In the days following its passage, numerous businesses around Arizona began putting up signs and decals in their windows and doorways with a rainbow and stating that all people are welcome there. People who backed SB 1062 wrote outraged editorials because the law was meant to enable them to ignore gays legally, why aren't they doing so?
There are two potential explanations for this, both of which are equally plausible. The simple explanation is that the conservative movement was trying to put the gay rights genie back in the bottle and were not in the mood for anyone to challenge their authority. The other explanation, the more insidious one, the one I put my money on, was that the supporters of SB 1062 thought that the only reason people were supporting gay rights was because they were forced to by court rulings and federal laws -- if people were given the opportunity to disregard those things, to be protected from those things, they would reveal themselves to hate gays just as much as they did. And it shocked them to find out that people supported gay rights not because of an edict from authority but because they felt it was the right thing to do.
From a historical standpoint, it is absolutely stunning to see how quickly people have embraced gay rights. In all my years as a political observer, I have never seen such a huge shift happen in such a short period of time. If you want a road map for how things have changed, you need look no further than California.
In the year 2000, California offered up for vote the nefarious Proposition 22. It was created specifically to amend Family Code Section 300, to add the distinction of marriage only being recognized by the state of California if it is between a man and a woman (longtime students of civil rights will recognize this as the gambit used by the Defense Of Marriage Act signed into law by Slick Willie Clinton in 1996). Not only was this to clean up Sec. 300, but to also close a "loophole" in Section 308 that recognized marriages performed legally outside the state to be recognized within the state. In other words, Sec. 308 said that if two gays got married in a state where it was legal, the marriage would be legal in California even if California wouldn't marry them themselves.
(SIDEBAR: closing the loophole actually is a violation of the Constitution, and hypocritical as well. Here's a fun fact for you -- there are approximately 25 states in the US where you can legally marry your first cousin. But, because of the Constitution, once the marriage is performed, that union is recognized as legal IN ALL 50 STATES. In other words, California would allow incest, but gay marriage was icky and had to be stopped. Good going.)
Prop 22 won approval that year by a margin of 61% to 39%. It didn't take long for legal challenges to be filed, and on May 15, 2008, after years of wrangling, the California Supreme Court invalidated Prop 22 for conflicting with the state Constitution. Curiously, the law was only invalidated, not struck down. It actually remained on the books if unenforceable until 2014 when Governor Jerry Brown signed the official repeal of Prop 22, which took effect the first day of 2015.
Well, that wasn't going to sit well with the people who fought so hard for Prop 22. So they used the court ruling to build a new proposal, Proposition 8, which would actually amend the state Constitution to outlaw gay marriage and enable Prop 22 to be valid again. Not only did they begin their canvasing efforts again, but the Mormon Church, which isn't even headquartered in California, participated in working phone lines and get out the vote campaigns.
The result? Prop 8 passed by a margin of 52% to 48%.
I want you to look at those numbers again. Society's acceptance of gay marriage had shifted so much in only eight years that not only was the margin of victory only four points, but those four points came from a massive PR blitz campaign that hadn't been necessary back in 2000. That's how much the tide was turning. Now, marriage equality is supported by the majority of Americans, and their numbers grow with each passing day. Like I said, I have never seen such a dramatic swing in acceptance of civil rights in such a short period of time. Things like that get to the spinning ball of dirt and ice that is my heart and actually make it melt just a little.
Unfortunately, some people still don't understand the whole point of a democracy is enabling people to do what they want without interfering with each other. They see it as majority rules, or at least the majority that votes ruling. And people are celebrating religious beliefs being held as superior to the law of the land.
Completely unaware that they have just set up a very nasty legal mess that they aren't going to be able to get themselves out of.
So, today saw the handing down of a Supreme Court ruling regarding Masterpiece Cakeshop. MC maintained that they had the right to refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding because this violated their religious beliefs that homosexuality was wrong. The ruling was 7-2. This is being reported as a "narrow ruling," but that's not in reference to the voting outcome. It refers to the decision being written to apply to this specific set of circumstances and not being intended as a foundation for future laws and rulings. (I will deal with this anon.) Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. Usually, I can at least understand and respect Kennedy's reasoning, even if I disagree with it. But this time? I'm drawing a blank. Kennedy did write that this wasn't the last word on the subject. "The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts." ...uh...yeah.... Kennedy clearly already sees what's going to happen because of this ruling. The Supes kicked the can down the road, and he better hope he's not sitting when it comes up again.
So, what exactly am I talking about? What do I mean when I say this is going to be a nightmare to deal with?
I'm talking about the movement to legitimize Sharia Law.
This concerns that modern political boogeyman, Islam. For a while now, there have been attempts to allow Sharia Law to supercede the Constitution, claiming "religious freedom." Now, based on the ruling above, that laws can be ignored in favor of "deeply held religious beliefs," how long do you think it will take before someone who is Muslim to cite religious freedom as a reason to either disregard laws or even discriminate against Christians and other "enemies?" Not long. Anyone who thinks otherwise is unaware of the political clout and organizational skills of groups like the Nation Of Islam.
In other words, those who want the courts to uphold their Christian beliefs have just opened a Pandora's box, full of creatures that will target them instead of just their enemies.
Now, I'm aware that writing this is going to cause people to block or delete me from their lists. It happens every time I write a pro-gay rights piece. I do keep track, and I see when the numbers drop as well as climb. I could find out who exactly blocked or deleted me if I really wanted to, but it's not worth it to me. If people are that upset about me supporting gay rights, then frankly, I'd be blocking and deleting them first, they just beat me to the punch. The outcome in both scenarios is they are out of my life, that's what I want, so I'm fine with it. They do the dirty work for me. So anyone who is furious and wants to drop me, you won't be missed. Hell, given how many I have and how few of them are actually active, I'm not even sure I'll be aware of your existence or actions unless I actually check. So if you are expecting me to feel bad because you are shunning me...well, let's just say I take a lot of pride in making the right kinds of enemies. Thanks for helping me learn who I can and can't collaborate with and keep a clean conscience.