National Review Is To The Right Of The Kansas GOP

In what is a truly depressing development, NRO’s Ryan Anderson insists the Kansas law permitting government officials and any individual person to discriminate against gay couples in civil marriages (which are banned in Kansas) is just a defense against oppression (which doesn’t yet exist). So NRO is now to the right of even the Kansas GOP on this. Anderson’s previous piece on the question actually describes the inclusion of gays and lesbians in routine anti-discrimination laws as “special privileges”, when every other minority group is protected by them, including religious believers. Anderson also claims the following:

Contrary to what some opponents of the bill have suggested, the Kansas policy would only protect religious individuals and organizations from being forced to provide services related to marriage, the celebration of marriage, or similar relationship. It would not allow businesses, individuals, or government employees from refusing to serve someone (or a couple) simply because of his or her sexual orientation.

But if a gay person were already in a relationship of even the vaguest sort, any vendor could decide to discriminate against them. Here’s the language of the Kansas bill, allowing anyone to refuse to provide

any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement;

It seems pretty clear to me: any individual could refuse to provide employment to someone related to any living arrangement they disapprove of. That’s a massive category that could easily mean de facto publicly legislated discrimination against the tiny gay minority. That Anderson does not even consider the concerns of those of us worried by this vague, open-ended law or is in any way interested in the dignity or equality of gay citizens in Kansas (citizens who are currently denied any protection from discrimination in employment, and denied the right to any stable, lawful relationship as well) reveals the blind spot that so many on the far right have.

And he doesn’t explain why such a law should not also include marriages or relationships that are not gay and which nonetheless violate some aspect of religious conscience – like marriages that involved previously divorced people or those that violate some religious strictures against inter-faith marriage. If you’re really defending religious liberty and not just attacking gays, you’d think the law would be a lot broader in its targets.

National Review has four pieces up right now on marriage equality. All take it as a premise that civil marriage for gay people is a civilizational catastrophe and argue for a ramped up culture war against it. Those who once thought there could be some accommodation between gays and the GOP can only be further dismayed. Our liberties and dignity are meaningless to them – and there are close to no gay writers or thinkers on the right or center right that are allowed to participate in this debate. At some point, you begin to wonder whether this isn’t more than posturing. When they believe gays should be denied any legally supported relationship, when they oppose all anti-discrimination laws for gays (but are fine with them for every other minority), when they oppose hate crime laws for gays (but support them in every other category), you begin to realize that they are still living in the 1970s. If they cannot prevent us from being visible, they can at least put up walls to keep us from interacting with them in any way. And they wonder why the Jim Crow analogy seems so apposite to so many.