Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Freedom To Discriminate

Republican lawmakers are gearing up their response to the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling: a federal law that would effectively eliminate punishment for discriminating against same-sex marriage.

U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, the chief Republican vote-counter in the House, has signed-on as a co-sponsor of legislation described as an effort to protect people opposed to gay marriage from being penalized by the government.

The Louisianan, who as majority whip ranks No. 3 in the his party's leadership ranks, after Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, added his name Tuesday to the bill dubbed the "First Amendment Defense Act." The two Republican lawmakers who wrote the bill, Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho and Senator Mike Lee of Utah have cast it as a way to clarify and strengthen religious liberty protections in federal law, "by safeguarding those individuals and institutions who promote traditional marriage from government retaliation."

The Senate version, S. 1598, has 24 co-sponsors, including Republican presidential aspirants Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Scalise is among 20 House Republicans who have become new co-sponsors of the bill since the Supreme Court's ruling last month legalizing same-sex marriage—bringing the total to 87.

In statement his office provided Wednesday to Bloomberg News on his decision to co-sponsor the bill, Scalise alluded to the high court's decision.

"Religious freedom is a fundamental right established in the Constitution. Especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent judicial activism, defending religious liberty has become an even more pressing priority," said Scalise.

Scalise added the First Amendment Defense Act "helps ensure that Americans are not punished or discriminated against for exercising their constitutionally-protected religious beliefs.”

The measure, introduced in the House on June 17, nine days before the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, has been referred to the committees on Ways and Means and Oversight and Government Reform. It is unclear if the bill has any chance to advance. But Scalise's co-sponsorship gives it an imprint of some House Republican leadership backing.

So the game plan is clear: sure, you can get married, but if Republicans have their way in November 2016, expect legislation that would allow all kinds of open discrimination against same-sex couples in the name of "religious freedom".  Hell, it might allow all kinds of discrimination, period.  Who draws the line and says that a person's beliefs that black people are inferior aren't worthy of protection under this legislation?  This is Indiana's comically bad law all over again. and Republicans know it.

But that's the point: nearly two-thirds of Republicans remain against same-sex marriage at all.  It's bigots like this who will decide the Republican nominee, and this nominee will almost certainly be willing to sign this legislation into law.

Republicans remain the party of legalized discrimination. That's their platform in 2016.

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