Apparently emboldened by the success of their crusade to reverse women’s freedom of choice, red states across America are legislating restrictions that increasingly dictate individuals’ behavior – from how employees dress to who gets served at a restaurant.
Ironically, the legislation is based on “religious freedom.”
The most intense crusade today is against gays. One line of attack allows anyone to refuse service to gay customers on the basis of religious belief.
As you might expect, Mississippi is in the vanguard of the anti-gay movement.
The state legislature just passed a law protecting service providers from discrimination lawsuits for refusing to serve gays – and, incredibly, anyone who has sex outside of marriage. It also lets employers fire men who dress in a way they consider too effeminate or women whose attire they consider too masculine.
Republican legislatures have succeeded in turning back the clock by passing laws that are forcing abortion clinics to close. Now they are trying to circumvent another Supreme Court ruling by enacting “religious freedom” laws.
The court has ruled that banning same sex marriage is unconstitutional, and Roe v. Wade made banning reproductive choice unconstitutional.
But these rulings have not deterred the religious right, which has become inordinately influential in the Republican Party.
November’s elections will be vital to preserving personal freedoms in America. If either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz becomes President, future Supreme Court nominations will create a court that is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade and uphold state laws that discriminate against gays on the basis of religious preference.
To keep the highest court in the land from swinging dangerously to the right, voters will have to put a Democrat in the White House – and keep Republicans from controlling Congress.
It will be up to the voters to ensure that America remains “the land of the free.” And they won’t do that by staying home – as they did in 2014 when only a third of the electorate exercised their franchise.