Little Rock It’s hard for the haters to adjust when they find that they are still hardcore and the American people have gone south on them, and even harder when the corporations that have often been lockstep sponsors of all of this hateration go the other way as well, because their politics are at the cash register, and those same American people are their customers. If the consequences weren’t so important, it would be hard to keep a grin off our faces as the Republicans try to pretzel up over their same sex problem. In Arkansas now, just like in Indiana, we have a front row seat on the chaos within the Republican ranks.
For all of the slipping and sliding, there’s little doubt that these so called religious freedom bills passed in a score of states after the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision allowing them to discriminate as a private company on their health coverage against their gay workers, are anything other than a license to discriminate. And that’s just wrong, and there is no number of words that can confuse people about it, especially when the fanatics try to add more bells and whistles on the standard issue template. The NFL pushed hard on former Governor Jan Brewer a couple of years ago to veto such legislation in Arizona before a Super Bowl. Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence is frantically trying to “fix” the bill by defanging some of the worst of the discriminatory features, after trying to defend it, and the NCAA, Apple, and other techies raised the roof about the law. Now Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is scrambling as well, having promised to sign the bill and then finding that Arkansas-based Walmart is telling him to fix it or veto it. When Walmart roars in the Arkansas political zoo, all the animals start running for shelter.
In a delicious bit of additional irony underscoring the internal division within the Republican ranks, Hutchinson said his son had even urged him to veto the act. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette interviewed the son where he lives in Austin, Texas, and it turns out he is a 31-year old organizer with the Communication Workers of America affiliate to the Texas State Employee Union and their over 10,000 members among public workers. I’m loving it! Says he has wanted to organize for a union since he was 20 years old and be part of the fight for social justice. He wants equality in marriage, but he and his girlfriend of 9 years haven’t signed up yet. Furthermore, being totally on message, when asked how he felt being a critical voice that his father credited with his change of mind, he replied firmly that that wasn’t the case, but instead it was the “collective action” and voice of people demanding the right thing be done here. May Si Hutchinson have a long future as an organizer and continue to be a thorn in his family’s side on issues of the head and heart.
There’s no question that the Republicans are out of synch on the issue. For example, according to the Pew Research Center 52 percent of Americans support gay marriage, compared with 40 percent who oppose it; in 2001, Americans opposed it by a 57 percent to 35 percent margin in the same poll. That’s a 100% flip over in less than 15 years. And, that’s same-sex marriage. The issue on this bill is much more direct since it opens the door to direct discrimination against individuals solely on the basis of their sexual preference and the subjective assertion of religious bias as the justification for it. Ewwww!
Politics is like evolution: adapt or die. Republicans are going to lose more than their sons and daughters on this issue. They are going to lose lots of elections around the country if they don’t step back from the hate and the wrong side of history and the rest of the American people.