fresh voices from the front lines of change







This week, wingnuts tried to frighten Americans into believing that gays were going to take away their religious freedom, and learned — in Indiana, Arkansas, and a few other states — that those old tricks don’t work anymore.

Discrimination Doesn’t Pay

Ever since the Supreme Court all but overthrew the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), right-wingers have been fired up about “religious freedom.” Some even insist that as business owners their religious beliefs give them the right to deny services to same-sex couples. After some anti-gay bakers refused to bake cakes for gay couples, and were found guilty of discrimination, wingnut legislatures decided it was time to write discrimination into law again.

Last week, Indiana became the latest state to pass a “religious freedom” law. Governor Mike Pence (R) signed it into law. Then all hell broke loose. A #boycottindiana movement sprang up almost overnight on social media. Almost immediately, the law cost Indiana $40 million, when the CEO of Angie’s List nixed plans to build its headquarters in the state. Ultimately, the law could cost Indiana about $256 million in business lost because of boycotts.


Meanwhile, Pence repeatedly made a fool of himself on national television, and revealed himself as either dishonest or deluded in his defense of the bill.


Meanwhile, legislators and governors in other states took a lesson from Indiana’s trouble and Pence’s bungling.

After defending Indiana’s bill, and declaring that it would not be changed, Pence finally called on legislators to “fix” the bill he said wasn’t broken. Both Pence and Hutchison ultimately signed altered bills that protect against anti-LGBT discrimination that might have happened as a result of the laws.

That doesn’t spell the end of their troubles, though. Activists are already saying that the “fixes” don’t go far enough. The situation in Indiana and Arkansas shows that Republicans are still up against the wall on gay rights issues.

Funny Or Die summed it up, skewering Indiana in a new video starring James Van Der Beek and Anna Camp.

Conan O’Brien featured an exclusive mock interview with Indiana’s “religion czar.”


In some ways, you can’t blame them for trying. After all, exploiting fears about gay people has worked well for right-wingers ever since Pat Buchanan stood on the stage at the 1992 Republican convention and declared: “There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.”


Buchanan lost his campaign against George H. W. Bush for the GOP’s 1992 presidential nomination. Some even said extreme rhetoric like Buchanan’s hurt George H. W. Bush’s chances for re-election. However, the “culture war” he invoked long outlived his presidential ambitions.

  • It resurfaced during Bill Clinton’s first term, when “culture warriors” gained control of Congress in 1994.
  • In 1996, “culture warriors” incited panic that a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling would legalize same-sex marriage, to pass the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.
  • George W. Bush embraced the “culture war” after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, and threw his support behind the Federal Marriage Amendment in his first term, and rode the issue to a re-election victory, before quietly declaring himself in favor of some form of marriage equality towards the end of this term.

Of course, wingnuts would be the last to know they lost the culture war long ago. They probably still haven’t figured it out.

Looney-Tunes Lawmakers

Here’s the rest of the best of the worse in wingnuttia this week:


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