On Donald Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, the Washington Post reports:
Clinton backers criticized Pence as a social warrior. Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, called him “the face of anti-LGBTQ hate in America.”
The governor, Griffin said, “has made attacking the rights and dignity of LGBT people a cornerstone of his political career — not just a part, but a defining part of his career.”
Pence’s gubernatorial tenure has been marked by a law he signed last year that could have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay people — sparking a national firestorm and a backlash from the business and — professional-sports communities that forced Pence to revise the statute.
A bit of perspective here. Griffin is a long-time personal and professional associate of the Clintons, a hyperpartisan who sees his role as funneling LGBT labor, votes and dollars to the Democratic party.
Pence is a social conservative, to be sure. But in Griffin’s view and that of the LGBT establishment, any disagreement with the left-progressive LGBT agenda makes you a ripe target for demonization. This is important, because it suggests that there can be no legitimate disagreement on the competing rights of gay legal equality and individual religious freedom.
The LGBT establishment and liberal media can put all the scare quotes they want around “religious liberty”—the way that social conservatives used to (and sometimes still do) put scare quotes around “gay marriage.” That doesn’t overcome the inconvenient truth that, in America, individuals do (or at least should) have the right not to be compelled by the state to engage in activities that violate their religious faith. And claims by the liberal left that such faith is wrongheaded does not (or should not) rob believers of that right.
Competing rights, in a constitutional system, are not easy to reconcile, and there will always be conflict around them. Demonizing those on the other side—the default position of the progressive left—only makes clear who the haters are, and, increasingly, it’s usually not the social conservatives.
That said, the Indiana religious freedom bill was, in my view, poorly constructed. Legislation to protect the rights of small business owners not to be compelled to provide creative services for same-sex weddings should not single out gay people as a class for whom discrimination is generally permissible. I don’t believe that was the intent of the legislation, but its supporters left themselves vulnerable to that interpretation.
On the wider issue of the 2016 presidential campaign, I’ve made it clear that I’m supporting the Libertarian party ticket of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and his vice presidential running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld—not because I have any illusions that they’ll win, or even because I agree with them on every issue (I don’t), but because I think supporting third parties whose views mostly align with your own may eventually have a constructive effect on the two major parties, if you believe (as I do) that both have gone seriously astray.
I see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as untenable candidates, for different reasons. And sure, if LGBT rights is your predominant interest and you feel it is absolutely vital to ensure that the government force owners of small bakeries and independent wedding planners to provide their services to same-sex weddings (because, you know, “Jim Crow”), then of course you’ll be behind Clinton.
But while I find Trump’s nativist appeals and economic nationalism wrongheaded, and his style far beneath the dignity of the presidency, I think Clinton’s foreign policy misjudgments as Secretary of State (especially as regards Libya), her grossly misguided handling of classified e-mails and lying about it, her providing favors for Clinton Foundation donations, her pandering to the teachers unions in opposing vitally necessary public education reforms, and now her championing of the worst ideas of Bernie Sanders as regards entitlement expansion, all make her unacceptable.
I’d like the Democratic party to move back to the center on economic issues, and for the GOP to let go of its opposition to gay legal equality. I support reasonable restrictions on late-term abortions, especially partial birth abortion which seems to me little different from infanticide. Also, I don’t think the federal government should be using taxpayer money to pay for abortion, which a great many taxpayers view as the taking of human life.
And I don’t have a problem with allowing independent service providers to turn down gigs involving same-sex weddings if, in their view, to take those assignments would violate their religious faith (civil servants, as government employees, are different).
I’m sure that, in Chad Griffin’s view, that makes me a “hater.”
More. Walter Olson tweets about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Pence backed along with other social conservatives:
Reminder: Indiana RFRA law had fairly moderate content, but sank in part b/c it was seen as pet project of so-con hard-liners around Pence.
It all brings to mind Chris Bull and John Gallagher’s book on the culture wars of the ‘90s, Perfect Enemies, in which they observed: “As some leaders on both sides have discovered, it is easiest to raise money when your opponent is demonized out of all recognition.”