Slight is the distance between anti-gay crusader and gay Caribbean cruise.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Written by Walter Pierce

Much, but not enough, has been written about the Louisiana Family Forum’s latest push back against the radical gay agenda. By radical gay agenda I mean gay people having the same rights and civil protections as everyone else. Because they’re like everyone else, except they’re not wrecking the institution of marriage like us straight people have been doing since Bible days, although I’m sure if more states gave gays the right to marry they could finally make a worthy contribution.

At this writing, House Bill 1101 by Rep. John Schroder of Covington is in the House Education Committee while Senate Bill 217 by Sen. A.G. Crowe of Slidell is before the full Senate.

Crowe and Schroder will tell you their bills aren’t about gay people. Let’s be nice and call the lawmakers mendacious. Or delusional. Anything with LFF’s imprimatur on it is about gays. And creationism. And a bucolic white America of God-fearing nuclear families, chirping birds, packed pews and moral conviction that never actually existed in an abundance uniform enough to say that’s who we were and look at what we’re becoming.

Crowe’s bill is ostensibly about barring government entities in Louisiana from setting their own rules about the anti-discrimination policies of companies with which they contract; because state contract law only enumerates race, religion, national ancestry, age, sex and disability as worthy of protection. Sexual orientation, special needs and a host of other characteristics are not, according to the great state of Louisiana, worthy of equal protection.

But the state Department of Education’s charter application form includes sexual orientation as a protected characteristic. Crowe’s bill would undo that. In fact, it appears to prevent any governmental body — a city council, a school board, a housing authority — from insisting that entities with which it does business don’t discriminate against gays. That may float buoyantly in Ouachita Parish where the hoodie problem is not of the Trayvon Martin variety. Not so much in Orleans.

Anything with LFF’s imprimatur on it is about gays. And creationism.

Crowe’s bill is really about allowing private, state-funded charter schools, which will likely proliferate exponentially in coming years, to tell gay students they’re not welcome.

Crowe insists the law has nothing to do with that, a position echoed by state Superintendent John White. But as The Times-Picayune’s Stephanie Grace pointed out last week, the charter school aspect is virtually all that was discussed during a Senate committee hearing on the bill a couple of weeks ago. An LSU law professor speaking in support of the bill acknowledged as much. A board member for a New Orleans parochial charter testified for the bill, essentially saying that discriminating against gays is a religious prerogative.

Crowe was present and could have easily clarified his bill’s intent. He didn’t. It’s about the gay kids.

Schroder’s bill, meanwhile, is superficially an anti-bullying bill, but it parrots so-called “license to bully” bills that thankfully failed in other states this year. The pernicious dagger sheathed in Schroder’s bill is a caveat giving an exemption for acts that would otherwise be considered bullying as long as they’re motivated by “religious, philosophical or political views.”

Rather than give charter schools and homophobes — and the children of homophobes — tacit permission via this legislative winking and nodding to discriminate and bully, why not fully enumerate in state law characteristics including sexual orientation that should be protected from discrimination and bullying? There are bills in both chambers of the Legislature that would do exactly that — bills that will likely fail under pressure from the LFF, because this is about the radical gay agenda, that bogeyman in garish, rainbow-striped hot pants trotted out by the religious right to cool the loins of godly men and shrivel the wombs of righteous women. Crowe and Schroder are legislating at the bidding of the LFF, the most virulently anti-equality group in Louisiana and one with close ties to the Family Research Council, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

There’s nothing insidious about the gay agenda. Gay people can no more recruit converts than Marcus Bachmann can pray away the gay. News flash: Gays — to riff on Lady Gaga — are born that way. They can’t make more gays, but they can use legal mechanisms at their disposal to promote and institutionalize tolerance.

With a phalanx of widely publicized anti-gay politicians who turned out to be closeted homosexuals lining up behind them, Crowe and Schroder might have more in common than just being lawmakers from St. Tammany Parish.

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