A reputation for homophobia that has dogged Republicans for many years got worse this week when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a new law protecting discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT).
His state's "Restoring Religious Freedom Act" gives businesses the right to refuse service to LGBT individuals based on religious grounds.
That means even though same sex marriage is legal in Indiana, a florist or bakery or any other business can refused to do provide its services on religious grounds. From there it is a short step to claim that religious beliefs can be used for anything else.
If anyone can refuse to serve LGBT people for what they claim are religious reasons, why not turn away blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, atheists?
But that creates a problem for those pious business people. How can they tell who is LGBT? Perhaps Pence could pass a law requiring those undesirables to wear pink triangles on their clothing to help identify them.
And for those Indiana businesses that, because of their deeply held religious beliefs, don't want to serve Muslims, Mormons or Jews, perhaps other forms of identification could be mandated by Gov. Pence and his legislature. How about a large Star of David pinned to the clothing of Jews? A crescent and star for Muslims? And what about Irish Catholics who don't want to deal with Protestants?
Who's next? If you don't know the answer to that question, Google Martin Niemoller at http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392
Gov. Pence, who is reportedly thinking of running for president, even trotted out an Orthodox rabbi for the signing ceremony. His insistence that "Hoosiers don't believe in discrimination" had a hollow ring. Pence said if he thought this was about discrimination he would have vetoed it. He knows better. It is all about legalizing discrimination and playing to the party's conservative ultra-religious base.
The GOP has been having a lot of trouble dealing with its reputation for homophobia and this display of intolerance doesn't help.