Conservative activists said Thursday that they will continue to press for additional legal protections for private businesses that deny service to gay men and lesbians, saying that a defeat in Arizona this week is only a minor setback and that religious-liberty legislation is the best way to stave off a rapid shift in favor of gay rights. [...]When you spend your time pushing for legislation designed to turn the civil rights clock back to 1964, it's obvious that you're bigoted, even if you try to cover it up with a stamp of religious freedom.
“The fight has to be over what the First Amendment is,” said John C. Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, adding that his side needs to convince the public that conservatives are not trying to deny the rights of other Americans. “This is not somebody adhering to old Jim Crow lunch-counter discrimination. This is a fundamental dispute about what marriage means, and why it’s important for society.”
But if you want those things, and the lesson you took from what happened in Arizona is that you're headed down the right road, you're not just bigoted, you're hopelessly stupid.
To review: After Arizona's legislature passed the state's "okay-to-discriminate" law, activists spread the word about the true agenda of the measure. Most Americans reacted in horror to the Grand Canyon State's attempt to twist the First Amendment into a justification for a return to pre-civil rights era discrimination and within days the same governor who signed the state's "papers please" law was forced to veto the measure.
And when Gov. Jan Brewer did veto the measure, it was a victory for the people who have worked so hard to make homophobia and other forms of bigotry a thing of the past. It was also a relief to Republican insiders and business leaders who didn't want to deal with the hassle of having yet another backward social issue weighing them down.
But the one thing it wasn't was a sign that the people who pushed for the law in the first place had finally figured out how to get away with pushing anti-gay public policy. They may not yet understand it, but what happened in Arizona proved the exact opposite.