Monday, March 30, 2015

Legions of lesbians demanding wedding cakes ...

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and friends at last week's private religious freedom act signing.

I could swear I spotted a "traditional marriage" rally up on the square a week ago Saturday --- a "one-man-one-woman" banner, 6-8 people, maybe a Bible or two --- near the gazebo. Or did I imagine it?

Whatever the case, I remember thinking, "golly, I should go take a picture," then "golly, maybe not." For one thing, I was late to lunch and in this case my stomach ruled. For another, a guy doesn't want to encourage people who have chosen that lifestyle by calling attention to them --- let 'em demonstrate.

Sexual orientation is not a choice, but faith and how we express it are --- and if those guys want to express theirs by waving a banner on the courthouse lawn, that's their right.


Anyhow, I got to thinking about this over the weekend as news poured in from Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence last week signed "religious freedom" legislation that could exempt individuals and businesses from judicial non-discrimination rulings --- based on their beliefs.

Old tin-ear Pence then iced the cake by signing the law in a strictly private ceremony surrounded by a bunch of priests and nuns in 12th-century habits with, apparently, an Orthodox rabbi and a bunch of Baptist preachers thrown in for good measure. Jeez. Shades of the Inquisition.

This gets complicated because some 19 other states have similar laws --- and there's a federal law, too --- but none have been used yet to sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people, although there have been and still are efforts to do that. Iowa doesn't have one of these laws and also extends protections specifically to LGBT people, which Indiana and many of the other 19 (heavily weighted toward the South) do not.

A decisive factor in Indiana --- and other states where similar laws now are pending --- has been intense pressure from self-identified faith communities angered by recent court rulings that have favored marriage equality. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled on April 28 to hear arguments for and against same-sex marriage and the outcome predicted by nearly everyone, left and right, would be a June ruling endorsing marriage equality nationwide.

Personally, I never count chickens until they're hatched --- so I'll wait until the ruling comes down to celebrate. But I'm guessing that little rally uptown here was related to the pending court case --- Iowa has had marriage equality since 2009 and although hope springs eternal, it's a little late to be rallying about that.

This all seems very odd to someone who remembers the days when Christians, Protestants especially, were out there working to "win" souls in more traditional ways --- Billy Graham crusades, revival meetings and the like. You may or may not have agreed with them, but had to give them credit for effort.

Now, it would appear, self-described Christian conservatives have retreated to their pews and congregational bubbles where they cower, anticipating legions of militant lesbians demanding wedding cakes and groups of gay guys in the market for celebratory boutonnieres. And lobbying for licenses to discriminate.


Even odder is the fact that none of the LGBTQ people I know, including myself, really want to patronize businesses operated by folks who don't like us. Confrontations happen now and again because there's usually no upfront indication that we should take our dollars elsewhere.

So I've been thinking of ways business owners could deter us without appearing to be overtly discriminatory. One way certainly would be to include "Christian" in the name of your business: Abner's Christian Bakery, for example, or Amy's Christian Florist. Or just slap a big cross on your front door --- that probably would do the trick, too.

There was a Barna Group survey a couple of years ago that asked younger people of all orientations and persuasions what words they would use to describe Christians. "Anti-homosexual" was the overwhelming first choice. So there ya go.

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