The ACLU will be seeking to expand the list of places barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s targeting at least a half dozen states — Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — that have Republican-led legislatures and also may be pivotal in presidential elections.
The Supreme Court’s decision “certainly provides momentum on the issue,” said Pennsylvania Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat from the Pittsburgh area who has been unsuccessfully sponsoring gay rights bills for more than a decade.
He said challenges remain and pointed to a November referendum in which Houston voters rejected a city ordinance extending nondiscrimination protections to gay and transgender people.
The Family Research Council, which opposed the Houston ordinance, is supporting state measures that would grant broad protections “from government discrimination” against people “who have a sincere belief — religious or not — in natural marriage,” said Quena Gonzalez, the group’s director of state and local affairs.
Missouri House Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot said many of his Republican colleagues were alarmed by the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.
“I think there’s a lot of states that are looking at this and seeing what can be done to make sure that religious freedoms are respected,” said Cierpiot, a Republican from suburban Kansas City.
An intense debate over gay rights already is shaping up in Indiana, where a religious-rights law passed last spring thrust the state into the national spotlight over concerns it could sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians. A coalition of 150 businesses is backing legislation to ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Two news bulletins: Business interests are joining with the Left to push the concerns of social conservatives to one side. And the ACLU plans this to be the year that it demonstrates the impotence of the Christian conservative movement politically even in red states like Indiana and Arizona.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.