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For all the insipid talk among its spokesmen about open-mindedness and tolerance, the "gay mafia" is a sworn enemy of both. Case in point: the inane opposition to Indiana's religious freedom bill.
A few years ago I hosted gay activist attorney Andrea Ritchie on my radio program and asked her whether she believed the homosexual lobby could peacefully coexist with traditional Christian morality. After a very pregnant pause, she responded pointedly: "Sure, if Christians will give up their resistance to our cause."
Today, in the midst of the inane opposition to the Indiana religious freedom bill, her alarming words prove frighteningly prophetic.
Let's be clear what we are witnessing. Seeking to harness the power of the state to deny the rights of conscience to those who disagree with you – as the opponents of Senate Bill 101 are surely attempting to do – is a frightening appeal to a 21st-century reincarnation of fascism: "Believe like us, think like us, embrace our views or be fined, fired, evicted or punished by the state."
For all the insipid talk among its spokesmen about open-mindedness and tolerance, this strand of what liberal comedian Bill Maher dubs the "gay mafia" is a sworn enemy of both.
And like their brethren of a century ago, the neo-fascists among us rely on a healthy dose of propaganda to fool the masses into supporting their agenda.
Take the much-publicized letter to Gov. Mike Pence from the organizers of Gen Con, the state's largest convention. The letter threatens Pence that Gen Con will look elsewhere (beginning in 2020) if he signs, "Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees." No such legislation exists.
Under Indiana's religious freedom law, not one Gen Con attendee (gay, transgender, cross-dressing) could be denied a seat at a lunch counter by that mythical boogeyman – the Christian bigot burger-maker with his "gaydar" fully activated. That's not what this law does.
Instead, it protects a private business owner (who might be gay themselves) from being coerced by the power of government to act in a manner incompatible with their deeply held religious convictions. In other words, it protects the Jewish sign maker from being forced by the state to make pro-Nazi placards for the next skinhead convention.
Further, supposing Gen Con decided to leave Indy in another five years, where would they go? Chicago? Illinois has an identical religious freedom law, as do seven of the top 10 convention cities in the nation as ranked by Cvent, the world's "leading authority on strategic meetings management."
In fairness to Gen Con, they aren't the only ones who bought and sold the propaganda. Cummins Engine railed against the law as being "bad for business" in the state. That's interesting given that Cummins has expanded their own operation into states that boast an identical religious freedom law to the one they were opposing.
Eskenazi Health argued that enactment of the law could lead to the denial of health services for people in need of medical attention. To bolster this outlandish and irresponsible claim, one activist testified before the Statehouse that before her female partner died of ovarian cancer, she worried that the enactment of SB101 in Indiana might cause her to lose her cancer care. In the midst of her emotional testimony, however, it came to light that she had been regularly taking her ailing partner to Illinois for chemotherapy. As previously noted, Illinois has an identical religious freedom law already in place. Oops.
All this intentional misrepresentation and deception begs the question: why such opposition to the rights of conscience? Particularly when those rights were among the most cherished to our Founders.
It was Jefferson who declared, "No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority." Yet today, Elaine Huguenin loses her private photography business in New Mexico because the civil authority there told her to violate her conscience and participate in a "gay wedding" or face the consequences.
And while George Washington once stated his "wish and desire" that "the laws may always be extensively accommodated" to "the conscientious scruples of all men," today a well-organized, ridiculously well-funded movement of activists seeks to deceptively undermine even the most mild legal acknowledgement of those scruples.
In 1932, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini outlined the doctrine of fascism, stating: "The Fascist conception of the state is all-embracing; outside of it, no human or spiritual values can exist…the Fascist State…interprets, develops, and potentates the whole life of a people."
What should alarm Hoosiers is not the desire to collectively enshrine the individual rights of conscience in our state law; rather, the increasingly vocal component of our population that, with nearly unanimous media support, seek to harness the power of the state to demand we all think, act and believe like them.
Peter Heck (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a speaker, author and teacher who hosts a weekly radio broadcast on WIBC (93.1 FM) in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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