A lawyer in California, Matt McLaughlin, has filed an initiative proposal for the next election ballot. He calls it the Sodomite Suppression Act, and you can read it here. Among other things, it calls for the summary execution of gay people, grants the right of private enforcement to individuals is government slacks off on the task, and requires a copy to be posted in every public school classroom in the state.
This has generated much interest, going, as it does, well beyond the suggestion of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore calling for the placement of gays in internment (with some namby-pambily vague talk about resort to the sword) in 2002, and takes the kind of affirmative steps Oklahoma pols have been unwilling to take ever since then-U.S. Senate candidate Tom Coburn sounded the alarm about "rampant lesbianism" in the public schools of the southeastern sector of the state. Eleven years later, nothing has been done.
Under California law, it is charmingly easy to propose an initiative, and astonishingly difficult to keep one off the ballot. So the betting is the measure will be cleared for publication and offered to the public for signature.
This likelihood has generated predictably choleric outbursts on the Left, and a po-faced silence on the Right. Such escapades suit many on theirs side of the aisle; homophobia is alive and well among far more Americans than one might suppose. Letting mountebanks and zanies like McLaughlin, the Westboro Baptist cultists, Bryan Fischer, Peter Sprigg and Tony Perkins, Peter LaBarbera, Scott Lively and his Ugandan Carpetbaggers' Club, Limbaugh and Savage and the host of other, farm-team talk radio hatemongers, carry the water gets, and keeps, the basic animus viral and exploitable, and makes it possible for the quadrennial frat rush of Republican presidential hopefuls seem moderate and mild-toned in comparison. If- and this is a big if, given the bargepole-length most reporters like to keep from gay rights issues (other than baying at candidates, "Are you still against gay marriage?")- anyone does press one to denounce, say, Matt McLaughlin (so far, near as I can tell, no one has, and no one has), they can.
Waldo, typing furiously in his bath, looked up for a moment.
"That sentence should be put out of its misery," he told me.
Then he said, "The answer is obvious."
"Yes. Obvious. Do nothing."
"Do nothing to oppose it. If anything, sign the petitions and help the Sodomite Suppression Act get on the ballot, even if you oppose it. Get it on the ballot and make the Republicans take a stand. Ask them, are you for it? Against it? If it goes to far, then how far is far enough for you? How much discrimination is OK, if this is now the state line of acceptability?"
"A legislator in Oklahoma has done just that," he explained. "When the legislature took up a bill to let people discriminate any way they like, any time they like, against anyone they think might be gay, she proposed an amendment to make them put up signs in their businesses announcing the stand they insist God has forced the to take. The signs can be very tasteful. None of that old-fashioned "No Gays Served sort of thing. Something more like, "For the benefit of our valued patrons, we maintain a homosexual-free dining room."
"Take the law in Michigan allowing emergency medical services to deny treatment to gay people. Make the EMS vans carry notices on the sides of their trucks. Make them subject every injured potential passenger to close questioning to make sure they are heterosexual. Require them to publish statistics to show they are duly enforcing the law; make them publish how many injured people they left behind, and what their fates were.
"Adopt the idea Senator Rand Paul expressed on the Rachel Maddow Show, that while public transit may be required to carry a homosexual to the sidewalk in front of a restaurant along with black people, the owner of the eatery may then deny him service. Make those owners, too, publish reports on how diligently they have interrogated potential customers, and how many they have rejected..."
"Won't that just lead to a rush to privatize public transit services, or justify their termination if enough drivers refuse to carry the gays because God says if everyone worked harder he could have his own car?"
Waldo scowled. "Pay attention. These measures are the perfect opportunity to hold conservatives' feet to the fire they have fed for so long. If they back away from any of such provisions, they risk the ire of the true haters they are happy to accept money and primary votes from in return for some vague promises of goodwill and homophobic legislation some day. Look how well it has worked in the past- they repealed Obamacare 40-some times to keep their base happy, and are promising to repeal it some more in the future.
"It' a perfectly free-market solution," Waldo concluded. "Look at what Senator Thom Tillis said about market forces taking care of this sort of thing," he said, picking up a water-spotted newspaper:
The senator said he'd be fine with it, so long as businesses made this clear in "advertising" and "employment literature."
“I said: ‘I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says “We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom,” Tillis said.
“The market will take care of that," he added, to laughter from the audience."And if they don't reject, or clearly qualify how much codified hatefulness is too much for them, they set themselves up for all manner of sport at the hands of their opponents." Waldo smiled a wintry smile and looked back to his typescript.
"Any other questions?"