Since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all fifty states with the reversal of Obergefell v. Hodges, a slew of discriminatory anti-LGBT laws have been making their way through Republican-dominated legislatures across the South and Midwest. The creeping menace of Christian sharia has been advancing across the country with a quietly sinister determination – and now we know who is behind it.
So far in 2016, there have been: twenty-two
“religious liberty” legalized general discrimination bills, seven bills allowing taxpayer-funded entities to discriminate against LGBT citizens, eight bills allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers; twenty-six bills allowing religious organizations to refuse to perform or participate in same-sex marriages, five bills allowing adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, and five bills allowing medical professionals to refuse to treat LGBT patients. The progress of these bills are varied at this point in time; some are merely proposed, others have made it into law.
Some twenty states have begun pushing these bills through their statehouses with little consultation of the general populace. CBS News took it upon themselves to figure out who is behind these efforts to undermine the Supreme Court and legalize discrimination against LGBT Americans, and they found some familiar faces behind the curtain.
They traced the bills back to a legal group called the “Liberty Counsel,” which defended Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis after she was imprisoned for refusing to do her job and issue same-sex marriage licenses. CBS found that the Liberty Counsel has placed lawyers in all fifty states in order to help draft and pass anti-LGBT legislation in response to the Supreme Court ruling. The group is classified as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Well I certainly want to push back against that [same-sex marriage] ruling. It was a wrong ruling. It has no basis in the constitution. The Supreme Court in the 5-4 opinion on marriage in 2015 lit the house on fire. All we’re trying to do is control the fire at this point in time” said Liberty Counsel founder Matt Staver. He claims the bills are about “religious liberty,” but it’s impossible to take that kind of obvious smokescreen seriously from someone who is on record comparing the “demonic homosexual agenda” to terrorism and openly advocates for the criminalization of homosexuality. They’re the sort of people that file lawsuits against libraries handing out Harry Potter books because it is “promoting the evil of witchcraft to our children.”
Funding comes from the group comes from a pair of billionaire brothers, Dan and Farris Wilks, who made a fortune off of fracking and then used their fortune to to support not only the Koch network and Tea Party groups but anti-LGBT hate groups like the “Family Research Council” and the “Liberty Counsel.”
Let’s be clear. The biggest threat to the freedoms of the American people and the values of tolerance and diversity that our nation was founded on are the religious extremists that conspire to rob us of our rights and divide our society through bigoted discrimination, chauvinism, and misogyny. Their draconian agenda of fourteenth-century morality has absolutely no place in the governance of a modern, civilized nation – and we cannot keep allowing billionaires to manipulate the strings of American politics like this. The Republican Party has sold itself wholesale to the highest bidder, and the influence of wealthy oligarchs is a cancer slowly metastasizing from within. Only by repealing Citizens United and getting big money out of politics will we be able to restore moral integrity to our political system.
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Opinion columnist and former 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.