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Tue Mar 31, 2015, 10:32 AM

Bill Black: The Homophobic Law and the Indiana Governor Who Dares Not Speak Its Purpose

Bill Black: The Homophobic Law and the Indiana Governor Who Dares Not Speak Its Purpose
Posted on March 31, 2015 by Yves Smith

Yves here. Since we ran a post yesterday on Indiana’s anti-gay law that is pretending not to be one, I thought that was plenty on this topic. However, when Bill Black sent me his brief legal analysis of the bill, I changed my mind. This legislation is a remarkably nasty piece of work. The trick is that the “religious” ground do not have to hew to any organized religion, giving the business owner or manager the right to claim any pet bias as part of his religion. If nothing else, it’s instructive to see how innocuous-seeming language can be anything but.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives

Sodomy, of course, was once referred to as the crime that dare not speak its name because the combination of fear and hate of straight males for gays was so intense that it was barbaric and even murderous. It is a measure of how much things have changed that the haters now know that they dare not speak their hate. They also know that they are losing. The vast majority of gay Americans live in States with marriage equality and conservatives expect to that the Supreme Court will soon strike down as unconstitutional bans on marriage equality in the Supreme Court. Some equality advocates are warning that the desperate measures like Indiana’s new law designed to authorize merchants to discriminate against gays are similar to the relatively successful strategy to attack abortion rights. They are right to warn about the need keep working, but the LBGT rights are not analogous to reproductive rights. I will discuss only one reason – business. The paradox is that a law purportedly vital to protect the right of merchants to discriminate against gays is the last thing that merchants want. Gays make very good customers. They have income and they buy goods and services. Merchants want to sell goods.

Businesses also need employees. All other things being held constant, businesses prefer happy employees who will stay with the firm and become ever more efficient. Employees need to buy goods and services and have the income to do so. Employees like to eat at restaurants periodically and they prefer the experience to be pleasant. The owners and officers of firms often take colleagues and clients to restaurants. The purpose of doing so is for everyone involved to have a wonderful experience.

So here are two variants of the nightmare a business owner has relative to the Indiana law. Four employees go out for lunch. The waitress come over and points to the declaratory judgment of an Indiana justice of the peace proudly displayed on the wall. It declares that the restaurant owner has the right under the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act to deny service to those who are LGBT or support LGBT rights. The waitress informs one of the employees he must leave the restaurant because he has what she believes to be gay mannerisms.

The second variant is that the owner of the firm takes an important client visiting from Illinois out to dinner. The owner of the restaurant approaches the table and asks the client (who is straight) to leave because they do not serve sodomites. ...........(more)


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