Religious Freedom, Discrimination and Profit

When major corporations like Wal-Mart, Eli Lilly, Apple and others tell conservative governors to accent anti-discrimination in their laws rather than religious freedom, it is clear that the capitalist marketplace has given a huge boost to the gay rights/ gay marriage community.

Certainly there are millions of religious-minded Americans who believe that the gay lifestyle is a biblical abomination. But there also millions of gays ( and their supporters) who are consumers, employees and activists who have had little difficulty in convincing Fortune 500 corporations that discrimination ( couched in the language of religious freedom) is just bad for business. In a nutshell the message from many corporations is ” stop the hate, so we can make a profit.”

What happened in Indiana, Arkansas and likely other states is that corporate executives want to move on in this gay rights debate and are simply tired of the culture wars emanating from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. I am not very good at prognostication but I would bet Vegas money that the Supreme Court validates gay marriage in June, further driving a nail in the coffin of the proponents of the gay culture war.

It was pretty clear from the beginning that the religious freedom bills were more about giving small business owners the legal grounds to deny services to gays. But what governors like Mike Pence in Indiana and Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas did not anticipate is that big business trumps small business and profit is always more important than religion. We pride ourselves as a nation of faith, but we are really a nation of money, and as this nation becomes more secular the faith community is losing out to profit.

I happened to hear a talk by former Congressman Barney Frank, who was the first member of Congress to come out of the closet. Frank, is a liberals liberal and obviously has an ax to grind when it comes to gay rights. But he made a solid point when he said that in ten years or so the issue of gay rights will go the way of anti-Semitism as two examples of discriminatory barriers being broken down in this country against minorities.

Time will only tell if this is a turning point in gay rights and gay marriage in the United States, but one thing is now clear – corporate profit has dealt a blow to the gay culture war.


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