A Thousand Times No Answer

What hump?

Our guest colloquists are ABC news leprechaun George Stephanopoulos and Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think one of the problems that people have pointed out is that in Indiana, your civil rights laws don’t include sexual orientation as a protected class. And even some of the supporters of the bill who were — who appeared with you when you signed the bill, Eric Miller of Advanced America wrote that, “It will protect those who oppose gay marriage.”

He put up this example. He said, “Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage.”

So this is a yes or no question.

Is Advance America right when they say a florist in Indiana can now refuse to serve a gay couple without fear of punishment?

PENCE: Well, let — let me explain to you, the purpose of this bill is to empower and has been for more than 20 years, George. This is not speculative. The purpose of this legislation, which is the law in all 50 states in our federal courts and it’s the law by either statute or court decisions in some 30 other states, is very simply to empower individual when they believe that actions of government impinge on their constitutional First Amendment freedom of religion.

And, frankly, George, there’s a lot of people across this country who — you’re looking at ObamaCare and the Hobby Lobby decision, looking at other cases, who feel that their religious liberty is being infringed upon and — and The Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the federal level and all the states now, including Indiana, who have it, are simply about addressing that.

This is not about discrimination, this is about…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But…

PENCE: — empowering people…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me try to…

PENCE: (INAUDIBLE).

STEPHANOPOULOS: — pin you…

PENCE: — government overreach here.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: — down here though, on it, because your supporters say it would.

And so yes or no, if a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?

PENCE: George, this is — this is where this debate has gone, with — with misinformation and frankly…

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s just a question, sir. Question, sir.

Yes or no?

PENCE: Well — well, this — there’s been shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and about its intention all over the Internet. People are trying to make it about one particular issue. And now you’re doing that, as well.

The issue here — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been on the books for more than 20 years. It does not apply, George, to disputes between individuals unless government action is involved. And in point of fact, in more than two decades, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never been used to undermine anti-discrimination laws in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, I’m…

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir…

PENCE: Look, the…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — I’m just bringing up a…

PENCE: — the question…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — (INAUDIBLE) from one of your supporters.

PENCE: — I think the real question here…

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was one of our supporters who was talking about the bill right there. It said it would protect a Christian florist who — against any kind of punishment.

Is that true or not?

PENCE: George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two way street or not?

I mean, you know, there’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today having to do with people on the left. And a — but here Indiana steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state and this avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is just outrageous.

You’ve been to Indiana a bunch of times. You know it. There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana.

And yet because we simply stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana, of every faith, we at — we have suffered under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation and it’s completely baseless.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor — Governor, I…

PENCE: It’s not based in any…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — I completely…

PENCE: — fact whatsoever.

STEPHANOPOULOS: — I completely agree with you about the good people…

PENCE: And I think people…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — (INAUDIBLE).

PENCE: — are getting tired of it, George. I really do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Perhaps…

PENCE: Tolerance is a two way street.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So when you say tolerance is a two way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that it’s now legal in the state of Indiana?

That’s the simple yes or no question.

PENCE: George, the — the question here is if the — if there is a government action or a law that an individual believes impinges on their religious liberty, they have the opportunity to go to court, just as The Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Bill Clinton signed allowed them, go to court and the court would evaluate the circumstance under the standards articulated in this Act.

That’s all it is. And when you see these headlines about — about Indiana, a license to discriminate in Indiana and — and — it just — I’m telling you, George, it is a red herring and I think it’s deeply troubling to millions of Americans and — and, frankly, people all across the state of Indiana who feel troubled about government overreach. This isn’t about disputes between individuals, it’s about government overreach. And I’m proud that Indiana stepped forward and I’m working — I’m working hard to clarify this. We’re reaching out to business leaders. I’m pleased to be on your show speaking across the country on this.

We are determined to make it clear that what Indiana has done here is strengthen the foundation…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I…

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, I’m trying to…

PENCE: — the constitutional First Amendment rights of religious liberty of our people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m trying to get that same clarity. And it sounds to me like what you’re saying is that someone could use their religious faith as a defense against any kind of a suit brought there.

But let’s try to get to that clarification you’re talking about.

One fix that people have talked about is simply adding sexual orientation as a protected class under the state’s civil rights laws.

Will you push for that?

PENCE: I will not push for that. That’s a — that’s not on my agenda and that’s not been the — that’s not been an objective of the people of the state of Indiana. And it doesn’t have anything to do with this law. I mean, George, Bill Clinton signed The Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I remember that but…

PENCE: Then state senate — then state senator — I’ll bet you do.

Then state senator, Barack Obama, voted for it when he was in the state senate of Illinois, the very same language.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right.

PENCE: This isn’t…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Illinois does have the protections…

PENCE: — about…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — in their state law.

PENCE: — well, I — this isn’t about individual rights or preferential rights for anyone. It says that everyone has the right to the highest level of review if they feel that the government has impinged upon their religious liberty.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That gets to the second possible fix.

PENCE: But I don’t…

STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE).

PENCE: — I don’t…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: — you know, again, I — I really believe, George, that it is — it has been breathtaking to many in Indiana, me included, at the fact that Indiana joined some 30 other states and all 50 states in our federal courts, by — by creating — by enacting The Religious Freedom Restoration Act and — and yet for — from people who preach tolerance every day, we have been under an avalanche…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, sir…

PENCE: — of intolerance…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — it’s not just outsiders…

PENCE: — and I…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — sir, it is, you know…

PENCE: — I’m not going to take it lying down.

STEPHANOPOULOS: — (INAUDIBLE) the CEO of Angie’s List in your state has put his expansion plans on hold because of this law.

But let me then get to another possible fix. This comes from The Lambda Legal Defense Fund. And maybe this is the kind of clarification…

PENCE: Well, I think that’s…

STEPHANOPOULOS: — you’re…

PENCE: — I really believe — I really believe that is a result — I mean I’ve been in touch with corporate leaders, both outside the state. I’ve been in touch with Mark Emmert at the NCAA. We’ve been doing our level best, George, to correct the gross mischaracterization of this law that has a — that has been spread all over the country by many in the media.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let’s get back to that…

PENCE: I mean, frankly, some of the media coverage of this has been shameless and reckless and…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I…

PENCE: — the online attacks against the people of our state, I’m just not going to stand for it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be. We’ve tried to be responsible, as well.

But let me try to get to this clarification.

One suggested fix to the law would say that, “this chapter of the law does not establish or eliminate a defense to a claim under any federal, state or local law protecting civil rights or preventing discrimination.”

Is that the kind of clarification you’re talking about?

PENCE: George, look, we’re not going to change the law, OK?

But if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, then I’m open to that.

But we’re — we’re not going to change this law. It has been tested in courts for more than two decades on the federal level.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just ask you in a final…

PENCE: In — in some 30 states and it represents a foundational protection for individuals.

And I’ve got to tell you, George, there’s a lot of people in this country who are concerned about government overreach into their religious liberty…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I…

PENCE: — and I’m one of them. And I stand with them. And we’ve defended them in Indiana and made sure our courts in Indiana use the highest standards, the same standards that are in the federal courts in The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just ask then…

PENCE: This is about protecting liberty of every Hoosier of every faith.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A final question, a final yes or no question, Governor.

Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians?

PENCE: George…

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s a yes or no question.

PENCE: Hoosier — come on. Hoosiers don’t believe in discrimination. I mean the way I was raised, in a small town in Southern Indiana, is you’re — you’re kind and caring and respectful to everyone. Anybody that’s been in Indiana for five minutes knows that Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan, it’s a reality.

People tell me when I travel around the country, gosh, I went — I went to your state and people are so nice.

I mean this is not about discrimination. This is about protecting the religious liberty of every Hoosier of every faith. And — and we’re going to continue to work our hearts out to clarify that to the people of Indiana and the people of this great country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes or no, should it be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians?

PENCE: George, you’re — you’re following the mantra of the last week online and you’re trying to make this issue about something else.

What I am for is protecting, with the highest standards in our courts, the religious liberty of Hoosiers. I signed the bill. We’re going to continue to explain it to people that don’t understand it. And in — and if possible, we will find a way to amplify what this bill really is in a legislative process. But I stand by this law. It was an important step forward when Bill Clinton signed it in 1993. It’s an important step forward to keeping the promises of our Bill of Rights and our First Amendment and our Indiana constitution, and I’m proud that Indiana has adopted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Pence, thank you very much for your time this morning.

‘This Week’ Transcript [ABC]

28 comments:

5:23 am • Monday • March 30, 2015

It seems Pence feels that being a Hoosier means freedom to be a religious asshole is much more important than freedom from discrimination,

8:38 pm • Monday • March 30, 2015

I cannot begin to tell you what an embarrassment this law is to at least some Hoosiers. On the other hand, many people I know are overjoyed that your godless gay hordes won’t be stomping all over their religious freedoms any time soon. Not that any of them can explain exactly what that means.

The two candidates for mayor of our city were asked on Facebook if they would have voted for the law. The Democratic candidate said he would not. Our incumbent Republican mayor declined to answer the question. Look out Washington DC, I see higher office in his future.

10:26 pm • Monday • March 30, 2015

Why don’t they just hang up signs that say “Straights Only” and be done with it.

10:31 pm • Monday • March 30, 2015

Low information voters may not know shit, but they sure as hell now know that RepubliKKKans hate homos, Latinos, and African Americans. Way to go, hate-crazed Far White Dumb Nutz!

10:45 pm • Monday • March 30, 2015

@¡Andrew!:
Indianapolis GOPer Mayor decries “No NoHomo” for bidnizes (the subsidized big ones anyway) in Indianapolis.

12:24 am • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

Garrett Epps has a nice close reading of how Indiana’s RFRA differs from everybody else’s RFRA, in case you were wondering how all those states got away with legally implicit homophobia all these years. (Spoiler: They didn’t.)

I was actually willing to give that angle a provisional benefit of the doubt until I read the transcript last night. Pence was doing everything he could to dodge that very well-framed question, which was all the proof I needed.

12:28 am • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@Dave H: Being an Oregon native, and being very familiar with what lurks just outside Eugene, I feel for ya. It’s only by accident of urban population density that Our Fair State hasn’t fallen down those same rabbit holes.

9:34 am • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@Dave H: Who or What wrote this law?
This bill wasn’t handed down from Hoosier Hill (Wayne County) to a waiting House page in NapTown. Some scribe had to actually commit this bill to paper. Questions like this are no longer asked by the hit or miss media. It might be very interesting to know who has fingerprints all over this law. I’m sure her or his mother would be so proud.

10:03 am • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@Dave H: I grew up in and escaped from the South, where low education levels, low incomes, and high religiosity have created a toxic feedback loop since the dawn of time, so I understand why those places are so racist and homophobic, but I’ve never been able to figure out why Ohio and Indiana are hotbeds of hatred. They seem so nice otherwise. Any theories?

12:21 pm • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@¡Andrew!: Pennsylvania, too. Carville’s line about it being Alabama with a city on each end seems so true. When driving across the state I think I saw about as many Confederate flags as when driving through Mississippi.

@Dave H: My ghey friend who lives in Indy is stroking out. Luckily he works for an extremely progressive corporation that has been quite public in supporting same sex marriage and opposing this idiotic bill. It will be interesting to see if the Tea Bagger or Bizness wing of the GOP will prevail on this bill.

@BobCens: I read on one of my lefty pubs that the Koch Brothers’ fingerprints were on it, but I don’t believe that (see above re: corporate profit). I’m guessing the American Family Association or one of those nutty groups.

7:58 pm • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

I recall writing a comment here sometime well before the 2012 election primary season speculating that a dark house Republican governor by the name of Mike Pence would emerge and take the nomination. As I recall my rationale was based on the notion that his chiseled, northern European profile would appeal to the Republican mindset. That was clearly wrong for 2012, but I was beginning to think I was just early and 2016 would be his year.

I’d like to now take this opportunity to formally declare that comment inoperative.

Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter.

8:19 pm • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@libertarian tool: I’m spending my days going Walker: Really? Rand: Really? Marco: Really? Bobby: Really? Cruz: Really?

Jeb would also get a Really? if not for the piles of money he’s sitting on.

And Hillary? Crushing silence. Party like it’s 1988, y’all.

8:43 pm • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@nojo: My early read is not very original: Jeb’s primary weakness is his last name. However, that particular weakness is negated by Hillary’s primary weakness, which is her last name. Whether Americans are more or less exhausted being led by Clintons or Bushes is a an exercise in counting angels on the head of a pin. No telling how that contest turns out. Probably the last one to make a gaffe loses.

While Billary would be a good President (s/he was last time), you have to face the fact that she is not a very good candidate. She never should have lost to Obama.

So that raises the very real possibility that Bush could win with enough coattails to hold the Senate and bring back One Party Republican Rule. There is no chance of the reverse this cycle, as the Dems are in too deep a hole in the House to flip it in one election. Given their turnout in midterms, 2020 is probably the earliest possibility for Dems to regain the House majority.

From my Dividist perspective, it’s important the Dem’s hold the White House in ’16. Not sure Hillary can do that against Bush. Another Dem without the Clinton fatigue factor would be able to leverage the Bush fatigue factor. No idea who that Democrat might be though. I’d like to see Jim Webb emerge as a viable alternative. HOPE.

9:34 pm • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@libertarian tool: I’m holding out hope that a scandal involving Bubba Bill’s bro-mance with Jeffrey Epstein will come out and bite the Hillary campaign in the ass such that she decides she’d rather give speeches for millions of dollars and not shake hands, and that Claire McCaskill throws her hat in the ring, or Uncle Joe runs from the Veep position. As much as my lefty self loves Warren and Sanders, they’re more effective in the Senate than as a failed Presidential candidate.

I would like Webb more if he hadn’t left the Senate after one term and were still there.

10:09 pm • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@SanFranLefty: I like McCaskill. FWIW, I’ve got a friend in KC who insists she’s got some local corruption skeletons in the closet that would never stand up to scrutiny in a national election. No idea if that’s true. Can’t imagine it can be worse than what either the Clintons and Bushes were able to keep under the rug.

Uncle Joe is an interesting case. He always exceeds expectations as a candidate. He’s just naturally good at it and great in debates. Plus, he is the only major pol in the country that can legitimately say he had the right answer for Iraq in the 2006 – 2008 timeframe (3-way partition). But… there is that Dan Quaylish gaffe machine buffoonery that he can’t seem to shake. Maybe he can overcome it. Maybe.

What about O’Malley? Why isn’t he getting any traction?

10:52 pm • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

@libertarian tool: KC scandal skeletons are probably small potatoes compared to Chicago or Arkansas or Florida.

I like O’Malley too. He seems down to earth (as much as an elected official can be) and my friends in MD say he was a good governor, and smart. I imagine it’s because it’s such a small state. The national reporters based in DC know who he is seeing as how they live in Takoma Park or Bethesda, but I think they marginalize him the same way you or I might in thinking of a NorCal regional pol as presidential timber.

Meanwhile, fellow Ess Effer, can we discuss Kamala? Lite Gov Good Hair wisely divided the spoils with her, but I think her cakewalk coronation is rivaling Hillbot’s and could derail as disastrously for the Dems. Next time Dodger is up here we need to grab lunch and analyze at length (hopefully with the assistance of a bottle or two of wine).

11:28 pm • Tuesday • March 31, 2015

Kamala is dead to me. She is on the wrong side of history in the Great California Foie Gras War.

In fact, if we are going to discuss Kamala I insist that we meet somewhere I can order foie gras with the wine.

12:03 am • Wednesday • April 1, 2015

Interesting that nobody’s bothering to mention Elizabeth Warren. Maybe we all agree that she made the right decision.

Then again, nobody’s bothering to mention Bernie, either.

@libertarian tool: 2022, maybe. The Dem tradition of punting every redistricting election since 1970 means they’re gerrymandered out of play for the duratino.

11:41 am • Wednesday • April 1, 2015

@nojo: Incumbents have such a crushing advantage in House elections that it is almost impossible to flip the House in a normal election cycle. There is one possibility for Democrats to take back the House sooner. The last three times the House flipped majorities (’94,’06,’10) have been nationalized wave elections when Independents voted overwhelmingly against the party in power (as opposed to cancelling themselves out as they usually do). But in every case, it was a reaction against Unified One Party Government.

In ’94 the House flipped Republican as a reaction to the overreach, arrogance and corruption of Democratic one party rule. In ’06 the House flipped Democratic as a reaction to the overreach, arrogance and corruption of Republican one party rule. In ’10 the House flipped Republican as a reaction to the overreach and arrogance of Democratic one party rule.

So there is a distinct possibility that the Democrats could retake the House in a nationalized election as early as 2018, if the Republicans win it all in 2016 and fuck things up as one party governments tend to do.

However, in this case, the cure is probably worse than the disease.

9:46 pm • Wednesday • April 1, 2015

@nojo: I read the Epps article which clearly pointed out the language of OUR bill was significantly different from the federal and almost all other state RFRAs.

To begin with, sexual orientation in Indiana is not protected from discrimination in any way. Our GOP masters have never seen the need to legislate any legal protection for gays seeking minor conveniences like jobs or places to live.

The Indiana RFRA now explicitly allows any for-profit business “the free exercise of religion”. Thanks Hobby Lobby and Supreme Court. The only other RFRA including this language is South Carolina’s.

Our RFRA goes on to widen the “exercise of religion” defense to lawsuits filed by individuals as well as by any governmental entity. Only the Texas RFRA also applies to individuals and not just the government.

The co-authors are Rep. Jud McMillin (Brookville) and Sen. Scott Schroeder (Indianapolis). It passed the House 63-31 and the Senate 40-10 on straight party lines.

The photo of Pence signing the bill shows three gentlemen standing directly behind the governor’s chair. All three are listed in GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project, a list of pundits GLAAD warns networks against using because of their extreme views on LGBT issues. This pure-as-the-driven-snow threesome includes:
1. Micah Clark – Head of American Family Association of Indiana. He believes homosexuality is a treatable disorder.
2. Eric Miller – Executive Director of Advance America. He distributed a flier claiming pastors could be jailed for preaching against homosexuality when gay marriage became legal.
3. Curt Smith – President of Indiana Family Institute. He equates homosexuality with adultery and bestiality. He is credited with “helping” the legislators write the bill.

10:51 pm • Wednesday • April 1, 2015

@nojo: “The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language (yet).” FTFY.

8:55 am • Thursday • April 2, 2015

The NCAA will get Indiana’s problem solved, trust me. If they didn’t it would mean UConn couldn’t be crowned women’s champion for the hundredth time next year.
A faint smell of mendacity hangs in Indiana’s spring morning air.
Ah yes, I remember it well.

10:27 am • Thursday • April 2, 2015

@BobCens:

I love the smell of mendacity in the morning.

It smells like victory.

4:00 pm • Thursday • April 2, 2015

They’re gonna need a translator for the tongue-talkers.

Also, why is that Miracles Pizza bigotess dressed like a 90s British police officer?

12:09 am • Friday • April 3, 2015

@libertarian tool: I’m kind of meh on foie but we have a huge tin of it in our freezer, courtesy of the parents of the French kid who interned with Mr. SFL.

Speaking of tins, and Uncle Joe, his thoughts on mellbell‘s DC’s legalization of weed.

@Dave H: OT personal question – aren’t you lightfoot’s significant other? How is she?

12:11 am • Friday • April 3, 2015

Oh, and speaking of the gheyz, and I know I’m a day late, but Charles Pierce’s takedown of David Brooks telling the gheyz to use their indoor voices is Price.Less. I got about a paragraph through Brooks’ op-ed before I wanted to fling my laptop across the room. Of course I would never abuse an Apple product that way, never fear Nojo and Benedick, although I apparently have maxed out the memory on the thing…

6:57 pm • Saturday • April 11, 2015

@SanFranLefty: OT personal answer – sorry but I don’t know lightfoot. Seems like she was from somewhere in Louisville, which is south of the river from me. I haven’t seen her on Stinque for quite some time.

Add a comment