by Max Brantley
President Obama has disappointed supporters of gay rights by refusing to sign an executive order prohibiting people who receive federal contracts from discriminating against gay people in employment. He supports legislation to extend employment protection to gay people, cold comfort to those discriminated against.
It's an election year. Gay discrimination has been part of the Republican troika — with God and guns — for years. Gay rights? Republican state legislators are busily at work on legislation to explicitly allow employment discrimination against gay people and to protect people who claim a religious — religious! — defense for bullying of gay people, including children.
It is a mean political world out there. The Muslim from Kenya carries enough baggage, I guess, without adding extraordinary presidential effort in the plight of a discrminated sexual minority. Scant help to him. He carries the burden already by his stance in support of gays in the military and refusal (on sound legal ground) to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Might as well go all in.
Extremism — whether in oppressing gay people, restricting women's medical rights, promoting gun use or limiting health coverage to those able to pay — appears to be in vogue more than ever this year on the Republican side of the aisle. Is it a winner? In Arkansas, Republican chair Doyle Webb said yesterday that this view is the mainstream today. God, or somebody, help us if that's right.
SPEAKING OF EXTREMISM: Good article on how Republican legislators in the South have come up with a strategy to stamp out the availability of legal abortion. In another day — before partisan ideologues took over the Supreme Court — this wouldn't have been possible. Now ....