Here’s the Proof: They Really Do Want to Discriminate Against You

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2015

I’ve been missing in action the past few months, working ten to eleven hour days at work and having just about every other minute outside of work consumed by other things. This pace is likely to continue at least through May. So I haven’t been able to keep up with the slew of right-to-discriminate bills making their appearance in state legislatures across the country as part of a larger backlash against an anticipated Supreme Court ruling sometime this summer on marriage equality. Some of that backlash is comical, like Oklahoma’s deciding not to marry straight people if gays can marry. Other examples are far more sinister, like Indiana’s sweeping law that gives any Indiana business or individual license to discriminate against anyone — including Africa-Americans, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, women, foreigners, and LGBT people. In fact, Indiana’s law is so sweeping that it allows anyone to violate any law unless there is a “compelling governmental interest… of the highest magnitude,” which I guess may exclude most felonies, although the wording of the bill doesn’t exactly make that clear.

Despite intense lobbying by business leaders, Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the bill into law while protesting that “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would’ve vetoed it.” But of course, you know as well as I do that all of these bills making their way through state legislatures are precisely about discrimination. And here’s the proof.

A similar right to discriminate bill was making its way through the Georgia House this week. It actually passed the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, but not before an amendment was added by State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), who opposed the bill:

“I take at face value the statements of the proponents that they do not intend discrimination with this bill but I also believe that if that is the case, we should state that expressly in the bill itself. That is what the amendment does.”

Jacobs’s amendment added language to explicitly prevent “discrimination on any ground prohibited by federal, state or local law.” Bill supporter Rep. Barry Flemming (R-Harlem) complained that “This is the amendment that will gut this bill.” Which, of course, it does. And the reason that an anti-discrimination clause “guts” a bill that is “not about discrimination” is because you simply can’t get around the fact that, despite the Indiana Governor’s protest, discrimination really is the whole point of the bill! And so Flemming announced that if there is an amendment that says the bill would not allow discrimination, he would no longer support it.

So let me emphasize this: he would not longer support a bill that reiterated that the bill was not about discrimination. Because if a bill says it’s not going to allow discrimination, then he considers that bill toxic. So toxic that after three Republicans on the committee joined six Democrats to approve the amendment, Flemming offered a motion to table the amended bill. The motion passed.

The Georgia bill appears to be gravely wounded, although just about anything can still happen in the final days of the legislative session. But along the way, the true colors of these bills’ supporters have been revealed. They will tell you that it’s not about discrimination, but when you get language prohibiting discrimination into the bill, they can’t support it. What more do you need to know?

Mark F.

March 27th, 2015

Freedom of association is not “sinister.” You may discriminate, but you are not required to. The world is not coming to an end because people can discriminate against you. In fact, I’d like the bigots to openly come out so I can avoid giving them my money and business.

Priya Lynn

March 27th, 2015

You can euphemistically and dishonestly refer to discrimination as “freedom of association” but its still sinister in reality.

Priya Lynn

March 27th, 2015

Referring to baking a cake for someone as “associating” with them is to stretch the generally accepted meaning of freedom of association completely out of touch with reality. Its not like anti-discrimination laws force bigots to be friends with LGBT people and invite them over for dinner and a movie. Anti-discrimination laws don’t force any bigot to “associate” with LGBT people in any real sense of the word.


March 27th, 2015

And another state’s recently failed because of an amendment that didn’t even prohibit discrimination, but would only have required posting notices saying who you wouldn’t serve.

As for Georgia… every year about this time, I’m thankful for the same thing: that our legislature is only allowed to meet for so many days, then they can’t do any more damage until the next February.

Chris McCoy

March 27th, 2015

I’m sure Jim Crow would enthusiastically agree with Mark F.


March 27th, 2015

Effing republicans and christianists. There are reasons non discrimination laws have been passed. It was not because allowing discrimination had some sort of negligible societal effect that could be ignored. Does the whole civil rights movement ring a bell?

Priya Lynn

March 27th, 2015

These orwellian named Religious “freedom” bills allow doctors and emergency medical technicians to refuse service to LGBT people. But its not the end of the world if the right to deny service ends up being EMTs who point, and laugh, and do nothing to save a transgender woman bleeding to death in the middle of the street.


March 27th, 2015

What if my religious convictions prohibit me from paying state taxes: income, sales, etc.. Under IN’s new law can I refuse?

Ben in oakland

March 27th, 2015


no, because there is an overriding state interest in collecting money from you.

Richard Rush

March 27th, 2015

When it comes to bigotry-motivated cruelty, denigration, and persecution of others, religion is, of course, usually the primary force driving it, and/or the primary source for validating it.

And now that TrueChristiansâ„¢ are apparently on the cusp of losing on the most important single aspect in their overall persecution-crusade against us, they are on the verge of becoming lost and listless in a sea of equality. So now, in a desperate effort to keep the persecution alive and the money flowing, they are clamoring for states to pass persecution protection legislation so that their lives will continue to have meaning.

Mike Michaels

March 27th, 2015

As a Georgia resident, these were the first words out of my mouth when I read when and why the bill was tabled. This proves these bills are meant to discriminate. And, they mainly target gays and lesbians with everyone else being an unintended consequence.

Ben in oakland

March 27th, 2015

The road to hell is paved with unintentions.

Richard Rush

March 27th, 2015

While I assume that lots of TrueChristianâ„¢ business owners (and job holders) publicly support license-to-discriminate legislation, I suspect that, privately, most of them will choose to not discriminate . . . because the value of money overrides the value of their values. Just remember Dan Cathy.

The states have seemingly lost the ability to persecute through denial of marriage equality, so they need to find another legislative way to make persecution official state policy. Thus, I suspect that the real purpose of these bills is less about enabling actual discrimination, and mostly about enabling states to reestablish the official position that the persecution of gay people is the right thing to do.

And that’s why I call it persecution protection legislation.


March 27th, 2015

Ever since effective legalisation in the late 1960s. the general line has been, “Though we won’t throw you in jail any more, we still want you to know we hate your guts.”

There yet seems to be a popular notion (decreasingly, I hope)that emboldening people to be arseholes somehow serves the moral order.


March 27th, 2015

There’s no law on either Indiana or Georgia that says its illegal to discriminate against gays. A florist in Georgia could turn down a gay couple already, and couldn’t be sued. This law is just an extra “fuck you” to gays thrown in out of spite, and has the unintended consequence of giving special rights to religious people to ignore any law they choose.


March 28th, 2015

To Ryan’s point, sexual orientation isn’t a protected class in Indiana (nor, I assume, in Georgia), so yes, it’s just an extra level of FU. It’s like the marriage ban they were trying to add to Indiana’s constitution. Marriage equality was already disallowed without the ban. I never could get anyone to say why we needed the amendment, although we all know why…


March 28th, 2015


“The road to hell is paved with unintentions.”

Love it! Will borrow :)

Ben in Oakland

March 29th, 2015

Thanks. 5 cents, please. :)

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