William K. Black, Quito: April Fools’ Day 2015
April Fools’ Day continues to bring it delights, including a trifecta of homophobia I found on the website of the Wall Street Journal and other papers today. The WSJ news staff first reported on Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration” Act in a March 27, 2015 story in which CFOs reported their fear that the Act was “Hampering Hiring Ability.” The WSJ news sections recently cited the strong majority of Americans supporting marriage equality and the fact that support is growing quickly among conservatives.
The WSJ’s infamous editorial team was cranking up to send the opposite message. They support the oxymoronic “Defense of Marriage Act” (defending marriage from marriage) and oppose any constitutional rights protecting gay Americans from discrimination. The business community overwhelmingly opposes the new state hate acts adopted by the Indiana and Arkansas legislatures. The CEOs of America’s leading business thought leaders oppose the new state hate acts. The WSJ, on issues of hate, does not serve the interests of the business community. The title of the opinion piece is “The New Intolerance: Indiana isn’t targeting gays. Liberals are targeting religion.” The opinion piece doesn’t even try to support the claim that “liberals are targeting religion.” But the use of the word “liberals” shows how out of step the editorial zanies have become with American businesspeople on the issue of discrimination against gays. A majority of conservatives oppose discrimination against gays. Young conservatives are even more strongly opposed to discrimination against gays.
Indiana sponsors of the bill were openly targeting gays. Legislators tend to be older and if they are Republicans their only electoral threat is frequently from the extreme right of their own party in the nomination struggle. There is, therefore, a period that will likely last another decade in which states in which the Republicans hold all the power that legislators will be tempted to propose and vote for these laws designed to signal hate for gays. But the business community as a whole has already figured this issue out, which is why it has responded so promptly and vigorously. The WSJ editorial, for the reasons obvious in its title, does not even mention this response from the business community. The business community response demonstrates that opposition to discrimination isn’t a “liberal” issue and that business people know the truth – the bills are designed to discriminate against gays. Those gays are somebody’s valued employees, and major business leaders have figured out that they better side with their employees and customers, who overwhelmingly (and increasingly) are disgusted by discrimination against gays.
Oh, and the answer to the WSJ’s question is that it’s the same ancient intolerance against gays that leads to discrimination and the passage of the new state hate acts. It is sad that the WSJ even at this late date chooses hate. The citizens that the bills’ sponsors want merchants to be able to deny service to are gay Americans. There is nothing new about that form of intolerance. The WSJ’s attempt to define anyone who opposes discrimination against gays as “intolerant” reveals their inability to find any justifiable basis for discriminating against gays.