In defense of the state’s
“religious freedom” anti-gay discrimination law, Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton explained to his critics that the Indiana gay community should be grateful they’re being openly discriminated against, because at least they aren’t being hanged like they are in Iran.
“I think it’s important we have a sense of perspective,” Cotton said. “In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.”
He then suggested that Indiana’s law is somehow the same as the federal religious freedom law signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993, but critics across the country note that there are some key differences between Indiana’s “religious freedom” law and others around the nation — including that the state’s law applies to disputes between private citizens rather than between a private individual and the government.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recognized the glaring differences between the “norm” and the original draft of Arkansas’ recent bill — which was similar to the Indiana bill Governor Mike Pence signed into law.
Hutchinson, to avoid such wanton discrimination as is allowed by the Indiana bill, refused to sign it until it is brought in line with the federal model. Currently, Arkansas lawmakers are scrambling to fix the state’s “religious freedom” bill in order to ensure the state is “a place of tolerance.”
The problems presented by Indiana’s legislation were recently made abundantly clear by the actions of the proprietors of Memories Pizza, which announced it would certainly deny some services to LGBT individuals — something Indiana Governor Mike Pence claimed would certainly never happen.
True, gays are not executed in Indiana. But is “well, as long as they’re not being executed…” the standard lawmakers should utilize?
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Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.