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Crowdfunding discriminatory business owners: Perfect statement on anti-gay movement's current affairs

by Jeremy Hooper

It came out today that Aaron and Melissa Klein, the (former) Oregon bakery owners who infamously turned away a lesbian couple and who rely admit they have turned away other gay customers in the past, have raised over $350,000 via a Christian crowdfunding site. Presumably the bulk of these funds are from supporters who think they were wronged and deserve recompense for the pesky policies of their state getting in the way of their "right" to discriminate, just as we've seen with similar situations in the past.

While the ability of these anti-LGBT business owners to recruit funds annoys some right-side-of-history-and-the-law activists, I'm not one of them. To me, the whole thing is such a perfect example of the goofy and inept state of the anti-LGBT movement in this country.

First and foremost is the fact that it changes nothing. These pro-discrimination business owners can each raise a billion dollars, and it won't make one dent in any law or policy or ordinance that protects LGBT customers from unfair business practices. Not one deciding body or judge who put accuracy above activism would allow himself or herself to be swayed by the fact that the guilty parties can find enough like-minds to pay off their legal bills (and car loans and mortgage and...). Just like so much of what the anti-LGBT movement is doing these days, these crowdfunding efforts do little more than make themselves feel better about their cause. Which is fine, if that is the purpose. But if their aim is to change policies with which they disagree, then this is about as effective as setting the cash on fire and making s'mores. Far less delicious, too.

Which brings me to the most important point: the waste of money itself. Now, I do trust that many of these benefactors are giving money because they genuinely do want to help a family in need. And I'm sensitive to that, since I really don't want to see any family struggle with major financial burdens. However, it is clear that many folks are giving because they want to shape the political landscape. The most glaring evidence of this lies in the fact that conservative political activists are always the ones to push these campaigns into the sort of spotlight that allows for the outsized funding in the first place. And if this is the case, and tapping into a conservative network of cash in order to change things is the (or at least a) goal, then the constant requests for folks to throw cash at these campaigns is highly counterproductive. This is especially true with such a major election year coming up, where everyone who's ever thought about politics is going to be cold-called and mail-targeted and e-blasted on a daily basis by candidates and issues groups in need of dollars. While some folks have plenty to feed every bird who comes a'pecking, some do not. And if the conservative movement is bleeding its team dry with these constant requests for more cash to pay more bakers' and florists' legal bills, then there is going to be less dinero to go to the candidates who dislike that I just called it dinero.

Lately I've been talking a lot about conservative movement game moves that no longer matter in the wake of the Obergefell decision. This one, however, goes beyond simply "not mattering." This one would seem to actively help those of us with more prioritized interests. This one is actually taking resources away from the lingering infrastructure and candidates who'd love to keep fighting us. I have to think that some of the groups that rely on this same funding pool have to hate that this is happening.

Not to mention, if these things keep happening and they keep losing and they keep launching new crowdfunding begs, you also have to think that some people will start to catch on that these folks are simply flouting the law. Maybe not the hardcore activists who don't want any gay thing anywhere, but certainly the more middle-road folks who have been led to believe that this is a "religious freedom" matter. After five, ten, twenty of these very days o' the groundhog, a few lightbulbs will surely come on. Which is also right on par, since the anti-LGBT movement always overplays its hands. Always.

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