Monday, April 15, 2019

Come Clean

A visibly excited Ezra Klein finds in Pete Buttigieg   "America’s history as a lesson in hope, cable news politics as a threat to the country, an alienated kid with a funny name whose unlikely rise proves change is possible." David Axelrod, who typically is excited only by the thought of that other "alienated kid with a funny name whose unlikely rise proves change is possible," concurs, remarking
Additionally, Buttigieg reportedly now has surged to third in popularity among likely Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa, suggesting it is approaching time, or should be approaching time, for the South Bend, Indiana mayor to put up or shut up.

Admittedly, that could apply to all the Democratic hopefuls. However, it is only about the gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana about whom self-identified "queer" Bob Moser writes

It was the dishonestly named “religious freedom” law—which Pence had signed in March 2015—that helped spur Buttigieg to come out publicly three months later. And Pence’s praise of Buttigieg came after his own popularity had tanked in the wake of the roundly unpopular legislation, which was making his re-election campaign for governor in 2016 an uphill climb. Pence was scrambling to save his political skin, until Trump tapped him as his running mate and delivered him from Indiana. No gay person, by then, could consider him anything but a dangerous and determined enemy of their very humanity.

By refusing to let Pence off the hook, Buttigieg was taking square aim at the religious right’s most cherished rationale for its anti-gay bigotry—the old canard of “loving the sinner but hating the sin.” Growing up among conservative Christians myself, I heard it constantly: “I love you as a child of God, and part of my love is telling you that you’re eternally damned if you don’t suppress your desires.” Pence is the poster boy for this insidious brand of hate masquerading as love, and the smiling face he put on for Buttigieg exemplified it.

Pete Buttigieg's life story, especially his sexual voyage, is heartening to many Democrats. However, the "change" cited by Klein and "the thing" cited by Axelrod are ultimately meaningless and prone to lead to disappointment if unmoored to actual policies.

The "religious freedom" (appropriately placed in quote marks by Moser) legislation signed by then-Indiana governor Pence may have in fact have pushed Buttigieg out of the closet. The mayor now, to much criticism from the right, declares "that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand—that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

So let's have at it. Neither a presidential candidate nor the mayor of an Indiana city can reverse Indiana Senate Bill 101/ Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which since has been amended.  But he (or she) can advocate the revocation of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, unhesitatingly signed by President Clinton in 1993. 

That should not be difficult for Democratic candidates, several of whom already have blasted the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1994, whose ardent support by then-Senator Joseph Biden is considered a hurdle he must overcome to nomination.

Only one Democratic hopeful is openly gay, has explicitly referred to "my creator," or has boasted “My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.”  He contends his own Party "has lost touch with a religious tradition that I think can help explain and relate our values.”

"Religious freedom" laws subject not only gay individuals but everyone to being denied equal opportunity by someone hiding behind a claim of religious faith. Pete Buttigieg must reveal whether he believes such measures are critical, or antithetical, to the values of a liberal, inclusive society. That applies to all presidential aspirants, but only one has proposed himself as a Christian antidote to the horrid values embodied in Donald Trump.

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