RNC endorses “Indiana on steroids” religious freedom bill

The Republican National Committee really isn’t getting their own message when it comes to rebranding the party for the 2016 election.

On Monday, the organization endorsed the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), designed to directly undercut the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v Hodges ruling. The bill, which was introduced in the House in June, would specifically protect businesses and non-profits who choose to discriminate against same-sex couples on the basis of their religious beliefs, crucifying the concept of public accommodation.

Under the terms of the bill, every conservative pet issue would be addressed, leading the ACLU to call the bill “a Pandora’s Box of taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples and their children.” Under the terms of the bill, florists, bakers and photographers would be allowed to refuse services to same-sex couples at their weddings. County clerks would be allowed to refuse to issue marriage licenses to them before or after the ceremony. Religious adoption agencies will be allowed to refuse to place children with gay parents while keeping their tax-exempt status.

Reine Priebus, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

RNC Chairman Reine Priebus, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

The move from the RNC comes shortly after the organization rejected two other anti-gay measures, one that called on schools to teach kids the “harmful physical aspects” of the “homosexual lifestyle” and another that called on Congress and the states to pass laws nullifying the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

In response to the RNC’s endorsement of FADA, Gregory Angelo of Log Cabin Republicans told The Advocate that criticism of the endorsement is merely a distraction from the laudable step the organization took by rejecting the other two measures, saying, “Clearly folks on the left are trying to diminish the bold stand against antigay bigotry the RNC took at its most recent meeting. What happened in Cleveland was a major step forward for the GOP.”

Nice try, but don’t get a cookie for saying that no, in fact, it isn’t a good idea to tell kids that being gay will make you sick. And you don’t get a cookie for telling members of Congress that the Constitution is a thing, and that states have to live with decisions made by the federal government, including the Supreme Court. That isn’t bold, and to claim otherwise is the actual distraction from how not-bold endorsing FADA is.

The text of the RNC’s resolution also highlights the names of individuals who they say have faced discrimination over their religious belief that they have a right to discriminate. As Zack Ford at ThinkProgress summarizes, they aren’t exactly an oppressed group:

Here’s a quick review of how these individuals likely made their way onto this list:

  • Melissa Klein is the Oregon baker who refused to serve a same-sex couple.
  • Kelvin Cochran was the Atlanta fire chief who distributed his self-published book to other employees calling homosexuality a “sexual perversion” that is “vile, vulgar, and inappropriate.”
  • Barronelle Stutzman — whose name was misspelled in the resolution — is the Washington florist who refused to serve a same-sex couple.
  • Angela McCaskill is the Gallaudet University chief diversity officer who was scrutinized for signing a petition to undo marriage equality in Maryland.
  • Brendan Eich was the Mozilla executive who resigned after boycotts because of his donations to the Proposition 8 campaign in California.
  • Frank Turek lost work as a corporate consultant after his anti-gay views — including that being gay is “illegitimate,” “changeable behavior,” and a “road to destruction” — were exposed.
  • “Scott McAdams” — incorrectly referenced as such by Maggie Gallagher in the National Review — likely refers to John McAdams, a Marquette University professor who faced professional consequences for taking an anti-gay student’s side during a dispute between the student and a teaching assistant.
  • When Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) ran for governor of Minnesota in 2010, his anti-gay views and associations with Bradlee Dean of the anti-gay hate ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide were publicly scrutinized, and after a national boycott, Target eventually apologized for giving $150,000 to his campaign.
  • Jack Phillips is the Colorado baker who refused to serve a same-sex couple.
  • Elaine Huguenin is the New Mexico photographer who refused to serve a same-sex couple.
  • Betty and Richard Odgaard are the owners of an Iowa art gallery and wedding venue who refused to serve a same-sex couple.
  • Cynthia and Robert Gifford are the owners of a New York farm and wedding venue who refused to serve a same-sex couple.

You’d think the GOP would have learned by now, after the unmitigated disasters that attempts to pass anti-gay bills under the auspices of religious freedom have played out in the states, that it’s probably a good idea to let issues like this lie. Republicans have taken to the laboratories of democracy to experiment with “right to discriminate” bills, and their last few experiments have blown up in their faces. But rather than cleaning up the mess and moving on, the RNC’s put all of the same chemicals in a jar and fired up the Bunsen burner.

Have fun seeing how that experiment turns out next November.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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10 Responses to “RNC endorses “Indiana on steroids” religious freedom bill”

  1. 2karmanot says:

    Loves me some schadenfreude and revenge ( yes, revenge) steaming hot!

  2. WesternIowan says:

    Notice the politicians don’t talk about all the gay children who have died, or their parents and families. They don’t talk about the kids of gay parents either. This is how genocide occurs – government officials, politicians, and lobbyists feel empowered to pursue committing mass human rights violations. It is sadly not new in human history but a tragic repeat that has occurred and is occurring elsewhere – Nigeria being an example.

  3. maggiejtillson says:




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  4. BeccaM says:

    Meanwhile. family ‘values’ (sic) activist and admitted juvenile rapist Josh Duggar apparently had profiles on that affairs website, Ashley Madison. His alleged membership on the site and trolling for an affair coincided with his FRC lobbying against same-sex marriage equality, from 2012 to 2015. Gawker has the dirt.


    A taste:

    Someone using a credit card belonging to a Joshua J. Duggar, with a billing address that matches the home in Fayetteville, Arkansas owned by his grandmother Mary—a home that was consistently shown on their now-cancelled TV show, and in which Anna Duggar gave birth to her first child—paid a total of $986.76 for two different monthly Ashley Madison subscriptions from February of 2013 until May of 2015.
    In July 2014, he seems to have started a second account that was linked to his home in Oxon Hill, Maryland, where he spent his time lobbying against causes like same-sex marriage. The birthday listed in the data for Duggar’s first account is February 3, 1988, one month off Duggar’s actual birthday of March 3, 1988. The birthday listed for the second account is March 2, 1988.

    The two accounts overlap by a period of a few months. When he launched the second account, Duggar paid an initial fee of $250 that appears to have gone toward the purchase of an “affair guarantee”

    Schadenfreude, baby.

  5. BeccaM says:

    This is, of course, the opposite of ‘protecting’ the First Amendment, which reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

  6. MoonDragon says:

    Unless this bill specifically addresses the rights of practitioners of ancient religions that practiced human sacrifice or summary execution (without due process) for religious infractions or the rights of any follower of a religion that practices discrimination and repression of infidels, then I call bullshit.

  7. Indigo says:

    Fortunately for the GOPers, there’s plenty of ignorant voters out there.

  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    The RNC is taking the same route as the Democrats/DNC which embedded cult exemptions in ENDA and the Equality Act. Religious exemptions of any kind are a concession by bigots and bigot enablers to other bigots.

  9. AustinRocks says:

    Dumb move by the GOP.

  10. Don Chandler says:

    Want to start hearing Trump sound like a politician, ask him what he thinks of FADA. “Gays love me.” “Blacks love me.” “Latino’s love me.” Women are terrific. They love me.” “Of Course I support FADA, religious people love me!” “I know how to deal with polititians, make them love me!”

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