Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gay discrimination sponsors change message in face of backlash to bigotry

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 7:25 AM

CHANGES TUNE: Rep. Bob Ballinger insists people misunderstand his gay discrimination legislation. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • CHANGES TUNE: Rep. Bob Ballinger insists people misunderstand his gay discrimination legislation.

I don't know why reporters let Rep. Bob Ballinger get away with lying about his anti-gay HB 1228.

It failed to clear committee yesterday. And Ballinger's spin began about criticism of its discriminatory purpose. According to Stephens Media:

“Some of it seemed kind of, frankly, degrading,” he said. “Some people are completely missing the mark, either analyzing the bill incorrectly or just saying whatever they want to make it seem like something it’s not.”

Ballinger said some are trying to link HB 1228 with Senate Bill 202, now Act 137 of 2015, which prohibits cities and counties from issuing ordinances to prohibit discrimination toward anyone who is not already protected under federal or state law.

“I think a lot of people got stirred up on 202 and so now they’re using this bill,” he said. “The reality is it should be uncontroversial, that people should have the right to believe what they believe and if the government is going to burden it they ought to have a good reason.”

The Internet tells more of the story. Here's what Stephens Media reported Feb. 15, when Sen. Bart Hester's companion bill SB 202, to tie local governments' hands on civil rights measures,  bill passed the House:

Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, presented SB 202 on the Senate floor. He said the bill would prevent ordinances like one the Fayetteville City Council approved in August that included prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public services. Fayetteville voters repealed the ordinance in December.

This was also the occasion when a weepy Rep. Mary Bentley declaimed about the evils of being forced to engage in commerce with queer folk — taking care to spit out the words "lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender" with the distaste she believed they deserved, as opposed to an innocuous acronym, LGBT.

 “I don’t think … a baker that loves the word of God, that’s bringing her children up to honor God and to worship God, should have her business destroyed because she doesn’t want to bake a cake for somebody that’s a transgender trying to marry somebody else.” 

Is this really different from what Ballinger intends with his HB 1228. No. Here's the Stephens account from Feb. 13.

Ballinger said after the vote that HB 1228 would apply in the case of a baker who refused to make a cake for a gay or transgender person, although he said that “it doesn’t mean you automatically win.”

Ballinger also said he believes that gay rights and civil rights for blacks are different issues because people are born into their race but sexual orientation is “a choice.”

Got it? Black people get civil rights. Gay people don't. Discrimination is legal, particularly if you claim a religious pretext.

In other interviews, Ballinger has made clear he viewed the bill as an antidote to the  Fayetteville ordinance that extended civil rights protections to LGBT people.

It would appear today  there's a bit of discomfort with being seen nationally as bigots. The lead LGBT hater in Arkansas, Jerry Cox, is also distributing disingenuous talking points that this bill isn't about what critics say iit is. He hammers the "religious freedom [to discriminate]" message  incessantly — without the parenthetical accurate context.

The Ballinger bill and the Bart Hester bill that Gov. Asa Hutchinson waved into the statute books are intended to protect legal discrimination against gay people — in employment, housing and commercial services.  In some quarters, including most Fortune 500 companies, this presents a damaging (if true) image of Arkansas. So let's talk about religion — solid gold in Arkansas legislative debates — not about discrimination.

To "good Arkansas Christians" religious faith requires discrimination against gay people. Other sinners are granted exemptions when they want to buy a cake. 

PS — It is true this bill is not ONLY about discriminating against gay people, though that's the immediate motive force. It is dangerous particularly because, as witnesses yesterday noted, it offers up a religious defense to all sorts of things that we take for granted — from medical services to city zoning. It is dangerous legislation.

Tags: , , , , ,


Speaking of...

Comments (21)

Showing 1-21 of 21

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-21 of 21

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Question raised on Dallas Cowboy gift to NLR cops

    Blogger Russ Racop raises an interesting question, as he sometimes does, about Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' gift of free tickets for North Little Rock cops to attend a Dallas Cowboy football game.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Backers of struck marijuana act urge vote for surviving amendment

    Backers of Issue 7, the medial marijuana initiated act that the Arkansas Supreme Court today ruled hadn't qualified for the ballot, have issued a statement urging backers to vote for the surviving medical marijuana amendment, Issue 7.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Group calls for independent review of police shooting

    Arkansas Stop the Violence, a grassroots group focused on stemming violence, particularly in black neighborhoods, issued a statement today calling for an "independent" investigation of the police fatal shooting Tuesday night of Roy Lee Richards.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Four little words for equality: Civil rights bill filed for sexual orientation, gender identity

    Today, Rep. Greg Leding filed HB 1959, which adds four words to the state civil rights law to prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations, property transactions, credit or the political process on grounds of "sexual orientation, gender identity." The law already protects in cases of race, religion, national origin or disabilities.
    • Mar 9, 2015
  • Justin Harris used foster daughter in campaign materials, against DHS rules

    State Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) used photos of a foster child his family was planning to adopt during his 2012 re-election campaign. The state Department of Human Services expressly prohibits the public use of photos or any other media that would compromise a foster child's anonymity.
    • Mar 13, 2015
  • War. What is it good for? Tom Cotton has an idea

    Twenty-four hours after meddling in President Obama's talks with Iran, hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton scheduled an off-the-record meeting with defense contractors, who'd be happy to supply goods for U.S. armed incursions in the Middle East.
    • Mar 9, 2015

Most Shared

  • Issue 3: blank check

    Who could object to a constitutional amendment "concerning job creation, job expansion and economic development," which is the condensed title for Issue 3 for Arkansas voters on Nov. 8?
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
  • Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

    Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.
  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation