Friday, February 21, 2014

Republicans, banking on bigotry, look to resurrect Jim Crow

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Republicans like to think of their party as the party of capitalism, patriotism, and faith. In reality, it's the party of trickle-down brutality, xenophobic nativism, and moralistic fundamentalism akin to what you might in, say, Saudi Arabia.

Oh, and the party of bigotry. More and more, bigotry:

Kansas set off a national firestorm last week when the GOP-controlled House passed a bill that would have allowed anyone to refuse to do business with same-sex couples by citing religious beliefs. The bill, which covered both private businesses and individuals, including government employees, would have barred same-sex couples from suing anyone who denies them food service, hotel rooms, social services, adoption rights, or employment -- as long as the person denying the service said he or she had a religious objection to homosexuality. As of this week, the legislation was dead in the Senate. But the Kansas bill is not a one-off effort.

Republicans lawmakers and a network of conservative religious groups has been pushing similar bills in other states, essentially forging a national campaign that, critics say, would legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Republicans in Idaho, Oregon, South Dakota, and Tennessee recently introduced provisions that mimic the Kansas legislation. And Arizona, Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Mississippi have introduced broader "religious freedom" bills with a unique provision that would also allow people to deny services or employment to LGBT Americans, legal experts say.

"This is a concerted campaign that the religious Right has been hinting at for a couple of years now," says Evan Hurst, associate director of Truth Wins Out, a Chicago-based nonprofit that promotes gay rights. "The fact that they're doing it Jim Crow-style is remarkable, considering the fact that one would think the GOP would like to be electable among people under 50 sometime in the near future."

Make sure to read the whole piece at Mother Jones. It's a helpful, and deeply disturbing, look at what's shaping, driving, and dominating the Republican Party in 2014.

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