We've often heard it said that politics makes strange bedfellows, and that point has again been proven, most recently in Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer is under pressure from numerous points on the political spectrum to veto a bill that would allow business owners to discriminate, as long as they cite their religious beliefs, against members of the LGBT community.
One outspoken member of the right-wing rage machine that is known as talk radio claimed Brewer is being "bullied by the homosexual lobby (and) certain elements of corporate America in order to advance the gay agenda."
Who are the members of the "homosexual lobby" who are bullying the governor to advance their "gay agenda"?
Apple, which has indicated a new manufacturing facility in Arizona could be jeopardized if the bill is passed; the National Football League, which has expressed reservations about hosting next year's Super Bowl there; both of Arizona's professional basketball teams, which have expressed support for the state's LGBT community; American Airlines, which is urging the governor to veto the bill; both of Arizona's Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, who have also urged Brewer to veto the bill; the Arizona Chamber of Commerce; and even members of the state legislature that approved the bill.
Strange bedfellows indeed.
The Center for Arizona Policy, the state arm of Focus on the Family, which is pushing Brewer to ratify the bill, said the growing opposition is based on "fear mongering," which proves "that hostility towards people of faith is very real."
"It's a shame we even need a bill like this in America," stated Cathi Herrod, CAP's president. "But growing hostility against freedom in our nation, and the increasing use of government to threaten and punish its own citizens, has made it necessary."
Other supporters of the legislation, such as the Heritage Institute's Ryan T. Anderson, have said, more than ever, America needs religious liberty protections. What some people characterize as discrimination, he wrote "is in actuality simply liberty."
"Liberty protects the rights of citizens even to do things we might personally disagree with," wrote Anderson. "While the government must treat everyone equally, private actors are left free to make reasonable judgments and distinctions -- including reasonable moral judgments and distinctions -- in their economic activities."
However, noted Sarah Posner, Arizona already protects religious liberty under its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, though it only protects individuals and not businesses.
"CAP considers that a 'loophole,'" wrote Posner. "The RFRA protects individual religious liberty from government action, not the commercial activities of individual citizens; CAP considers that, too, a 'loophole.' Gay people existing and purchasing services from a business, for CAP, is evidence of 'hostility towards people of faith.'"
Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic, noted the supporters of the bill are a perfect example of what is wrong with the Republican Party today.
"To me, (they represent) a faction of Republicans that grew used to traditional Christianity's privileged place in American politics -- a faction that is now intent on shoring up that influence, even if it means a panicked assault on sharia law at one time and a sweeping attempt to exempt religious believers from secular laws soon later," wrote Friedersdorf.
Harold Meyerson, writing for the Washington Post, noted that similar bills in other states "signals that Republicans, and some religious leaders, are willing to invoke religion as a cloak for their bigotry."
He reminded us that this is not the first time religion has been used as a cloak for bigotry.
"During the civil rights movement in the 1950s and '60s, a number of Southern fundamentalist ministers preached that racial segregation was God's design. In a 1960 Easter Sunday radio sermon, the Rev. Bob Jones, founder of South Carolina's eponymous Christian university, told his listeners, 'If you are against segregation and against racial separation, then you are against God Almighty.' Labeling as 'Satanic' those who were working to abolish Jim Crow laws, Jones preached that it was God who 'drew the boundary lines between races.'"
Reasonable conservatives have pointed out this, and similar legislation in other states, only reinforces the view the GOP is an exclusive party of white, heterosexual Christians with no room in the tent for others.
"These kinds of incidents are always backward steps for the Republican Party because they remind voters they are stuck in the past," Mark McKinnon, ad maker for George W. Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, told Politico.
And Noah Millman, writing for The American Conservative, noted the legislation, if approved by the governor, would open the door for all sorts of "religious liberty."
"It would legalize polygamy and marriage with underage girls. It would permit public school teachers to explicitly proselytize to their students. I'm not sure, but I think if you founded a Church of Nude Defecation, and declared that God told you the Arizona state legislature was your temple, the state of Arizona could not expel you for practicing your faith in the place that God had designated."
We believe by the time you read this on Thursday morning, Gov. Brewer will have made the decision to veto the bill, and not because she is under pressure from the "homosexual lobby." For many Republicans, it comes down to money. Passage of the bill could have a devastating effect on the economy of "The Grand Canyon State," what, with boycotts threatened and companies promising to reduce investment in Arizona.
If there is one thing we know for certain about the GOP, the one thing they turn to more often than the Lord Almighty, it's the almighty dollar.