Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.The negative response to this law has been impossible for Indiana to ignore. I think that's great. I think it's great that other states considering such laws will now need to think twice.
The governor, although not ready to provide details on what the new bill will say, said he expects the legislation to be introduced into the General Assembly this coming week....
So why can't be there be similar negative groundswells in response to regressive state laws on other subjects?
Oh, yeah, right:
I spoke with Pence on the same day that ... Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle announced that his company will abandon a deal with the state and city to expand the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis because of RFRA’s passage.Right -- this groundswell is effective because the issue matters to the business community, which has become more and more gay-friendly in recent years. Generally speaking, progressive forces alone aren't capable of bringing this kind of pressure to bear.
Oesterle’s statement is a telling sign that the outrage over RFRA isn’t limited only to the political left. Oesterle directed Republican Mitch Daniels’ 2004 campaign for governor. And it’s a signal that the damage from the RFRA debacle could be extensive....
Pence said, for example, that he had a “cordial and productive” conversation with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who announced shortly after Pence signed the RFRA legislation on Thursday that the company will cancel all corporate-related travel to Indiana. That conversation, however, has not led to a reversal of the Salesforce decision.
We're at cross purposes with the business community on economic issues, and on fighting climate change. On other issues, the business community has no dog in the hunt: fighting police brutality in non-white communities, say, or defending abortion access, or closing the gun show loophole. Businesses want to retain LGBT employees and customers, so the issue of LGBT rights is a rare area of agreement between progressives and a large segment of the business community.
Yes, progressive forces have won a few without having business on their side -- higher minimum wages here and there, the reversal of anti-union legislation in Ohio. But it's rare. We're still not very strong. We're going to be embattled until we can put a scare into conservatives without needing reinforcements.