Saturday, February 14, 2015

 

Out Assholing Alabama


The Arkansas legislature gave its final thumbs-up Friday to a bill that will block cities and counties from enacting antidiscrimination laws that protect LGBT people.

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted decisively, 57-20, for SB202, with seven members voting present. Having already cleared the state Senate Monday, the bill now heads to the governor's desk.
In an act of political courage unmatched since Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee allowed a Discovery Institute "teach the controversy" bill to become law, neither signing it nor vetoing it:
Gov. Asa Hutchinson told BuzzFeed News in a statement he will let the bill take effect. By neither vetoing nor signing the legislation, he said, "I am allowing the bill to become law." ...

I recognize the desire to prevent burdensome regulations on businesses across the state. However, I am concerned about the loss of local control. For that reason, I am allowing the bill to become law without my signature."
A bit of background:
The city council of Fayetteville, Arkansas, passed an LGBT antidiscrimination bill last summer that voters narrowly repealed in December. When politicians there suggested reintroducing the law, [Republican State Sen. Bart] Hester, who supported the repeal campaign, introduced his bill to override Fayetteville and other jurisdictions that attempt to pass similar laws.
As for the state legislature's interest in this:
As the bill's sponsor, Hester told BuzzFeed News earlier this week that religious business owners should be allowed to fire employees for being gay.

Hester also said no businesses requested the measure "I just chose to do this bill on my own will," he said — and could not name any business associations supporting the bill. "In our world if they are not opposing you, that is almost a sign of support," he explained.

Not only preempting antidiscrimination laws for LGBT people, the bill covers any local expansion of civil rights not covered under state law. "In targeting LGBT people, they have cast a wide net and prevented protections for a wide variety of groups," Holly Dickson, the legal director of the ACLU of Arkansas, told BuzzFeed News earlier this week. That net, for example, could ensnare students and veterans.

She said the bill is "designed to permit as much discrimination as possible in the state."
So, there was no "ground swell" for this law, it was just his own idea to make sure that bigotry is enshrined in state law and his fellow legislators, either out of their own bigotry or political fear, went along.

Of course, he has just bought the state a lawsuit. Luckily for Arkansasans, it won't cost them much money because it will be overturned on a summary judgment motion under Romer v. Evans, where the Colorado legislature tried to pull the same stunt. Hester act wasn't as explicitly aimed at LGBT people as in Romer, but he has left a trail that a blind pig could follow.

But the bigots aren't stopping there:
Also on Friday, the Arkansas House passed a religious freedom bill, which now advances to the state Senate. The act would prevent any state action, including a law, from burdening a person's religious belief, even if that belief is indirectly connected to the person's faith.

While some proponents argue the religious-freedom measure is needed to prevent government from trampling people's moral conscience, LGBT advocates say it would let businesses turn away customers — a trend becoming more commonplace when LGBT customers attempt to buy floral arrangements or cakes for same-sex weddings.

Rep. Mary Bentley seemed to confirm an interest in refusing service when she explained her support for the discrimination bill.

Bentley told lawmakers she is worried about "little businesses out there, a baker or a pastor … that hold a conviction that says gay marriage is wrong." She added, "That is what we are talking about today."

"We should be honest and truthful -- we like to beat around the bush up here," she said. "I am concerned about things happening across our state."
That would be a change from the religious right ...
After emphasizing that LGBT stands for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender," Bentley said from the lectern, "A baker who loves the word of God … should not have his or her business destroyed if someone who is transgender is trying to marry somebody else."

"I am a Christian in the United States of America," she continued. "It's time to stand up and say enough is enough. They can do what they want to do, but we don't have to destroy a business. I think it's time that business owners have rights as well."
While it is less certain what the courts will do with such exceptions to antidiscrimination laws, especially in the wake of the Hobby Lobby case (that I suspect Justice Kennedy will come to regret), the fact that it was passed on the same date as Hester's bill cleared the legislature certainly won't help Hester's law when it is challenged.

What was the line ... oh, yes, ..."Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding."

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