Indiana Gov. Mike Pence seems sincerely surprised that so many people think he’s a terrible person for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. At the same time, he appears to be kind of lost at sea because he thought acting like an intolerant anti-gay religious fundamentalist would be popular. This is probably partly because Governor Pence is a genuine jerk, but it’s also because he runs in almost exclusively right-wing circles and consumes almost exclusively right-wing media.
So, he’s kind of an asshole and he surrounds himself with assholes and he gets all his information and most of his feedback from assholes. It’s like he’s living in a giant colon.
And then suddenly he’s forced to look outside into the light and there’s a whole world outside this colon that doesn’t approve of his values or seem at all inclined to reward him for his intolerance.
So, now he’s scrambling to repair the damage he’s caused his state but he doesn’t know how to go about it because he’s in shock and cannot believe the situation he’s created for himself.
Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.
“I support religious liberty, and I support this law,” Pence said in an exclusive interview. “But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”
The governor, although not ready to provide details on what the new bill will say, said he expects the legislation to be introduced into the General Assembly this coming week.
Asked if that legislation might include making gay and lesbian Hoosiers a protected legal class, Pence said, “That’s not on my agenda.”
See, he understands that he has a problem, but it’s not on his agenda to make clear that the law he wants to clarify won’t do what everyone is concerned that it will do. If he doesn’t make it obvious that it’s not okay to discriminate against gays and lesbians, then the clarification won’t do anything, and if he still supports the law then repeal isn’t in the cards.
In any case, he’s still being defensive.
He adamantly insisted that RFRA will not open the door to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians…
…“I just can’t account for the hostility that’s been directed at our state,” he said. “I’ve been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill.”
In defense of the legislation, he noted that 19 other states and the federal government have adopted RFRA laws similar to Indiana’s. And he pointed out that President Barack Obama voted for Illinois’ version of RFRA as a state senator.
The governor also criticized the news media’s coverage of the legislation. “Despite the irresponsible headlines that have appeared in the national media, this law is not about discrimination,” he said. “If it was, I would have vetoed it.”
Basically no one who isn’t an anti-gay bigot agrees with Mike Pence’s interpretation of his law. He’s even hemorrhaging support from local churches.
The Disciples of Christ church sent a letter to Pence this week threatening to cancel its 2017 convention in Indianapolis.
“Our perspective is that hate and bigotry wrapped in religious freedom is still hate and bigotry,” Todd Adams, the associate general minister and vice president of the Indianapolis-based denomination, told The Indianapolis Star. Adams said the Disciples of Christ would instead seek a host city that is “hospitable and welcome to all of our attendees.”
It’s kind of amazing just how much of an ass-kicking Pence is taking, but it’s not like he wasn’t warned. He just didn’t listen.