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Indiana fallout: Five #RFRA genies the anti-LGBT right can't put back in the bottle

by Jeremy Hooper

What a week. Some say it's a game changer, and I agree. Here are some changes, as I see them:

5) The anti-LGBT movement cannot keep pretending that this recent "religious freedom" push is inspired by something other than marriage equality. Everyone kept pressing defenders in Indiana and (to a lesser extent) Arkansas to come up with valid reasons why these laws were needed, if not LGBT acceptance and same-sex marriage. None could. Every prominent defender just so happened to be an anti-LGBT activist by trade, and every attempt to make it about "protecting people of faith" always came back to LGBT people's supposed encroachment on faith.

4) They cannot continue to pretend America is on their side. Backlash and pushback like the epic scenes we have witnessed this week do not happen easily or without genuine heart attached. When you have mega brands, mega celebrities, mega politicians, and millions upon millions of Americans rising up in a way that puts a previously wonky topic like RFRA on the front page of every newspaper, on the cover of Time magazine, all over social media, and into water cooler conversation across our states, the changing tide is simply undeniable. In some ways, it's even more of a sign than the consensus support for marriage equality.

3) They can no longer claim that what they were/are doing in the states was/is in line with federal RFRA. They kept trying to do that all through the Indiana and Arkansas conversations. But then Chuck Schumer, who sponsored federal RFRA, came out and told them how foolish that was. This was followed by the governors of both Indiana (begrudgingly) and Arkansas (more willingly) vowing to alter the language for which the anti-LGBT side had lobbied so that the old drafts did come closer to matching federal RFRA, at least in language if not impetus. These developments were proof positive that what the anti-LGBT folks wanted was not, in fact, what Congress and President Clinton had in mind in 1993.

2) They won't be able to keep touting these scenarios of bakers and florists who wish to deny same-sex couples without having white-hot scrutiny on their backs. Let me be clear: they'll keep touting them because they really seem to believe that discriminating in this fashion is something different simply because they say it is. However, the American consciousness has been raised. The idea of discriminating in public accommodation is now a conversation that everyday people are having. And now, when they try to push these situations are going to be reminded of this week's ugliness, reminded of how all involved promised that anti-LGBT discrimination was not going to happened, and reminded of how attempts to slip such discrimination into the American values system manages to unite brands like Walmart, Apple, Google, and the NCAA in fierce opposition.

1) Now that they've gone downright crazy about even one of their strongest allies in a governor's mansion, Mike "my-agenda-was-pretty-much-the-same-as-Michele-Bachman's-when-I-was-in-Congress" Pence, moving on a "fix" to the initial language in order to "clarify" that discrimination was not really the purpose, they can no longer claim that their motivations were anything other than what we all said they were. If their motivations were something other than anti-LGBT discrimination, then they would've been like, "oh yeah, that makes sense" when Gov. Pence or Gov. Hutchinson made their pledges to temper the language. But that's not what happened. The anti-LGBT right blasted and petitioned and roundly condemned these governors for their "capitulations." In doing so, they proved us right—and proved themselves woefully, negligently, misguidedly wrong.

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