Needless to say, the religious right isn't taking this very well.
Buzzfeed: The silence from the Senate Republican caucus stunned social conservatives, who have been arguing that the legislation, which provides workplace protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees, will undermine religious liberty.
“I’m mystified and deeply disappointed, because there are profound constitutional issues at stake here,” said the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. “The entire First Amendment is being put up for auction by this bill and it’s inexcusable that no Republican senators are willing to stand up and defend the Constitution.”
“I believe they have been intimidated into silence by the bullies and bigots of Big Gay,” Fischer added. “They know if they speak out … they will be the target of vitriol, the target of animosity, and very likely, the target of hate."
There's plenty more where that came from, if you really want to wallow through the piece, but suffice it to say that the anti-gay hate industry would very much like to know why Senate Republicans can't be more like their brethren in the House, where ENDA is likely headed to die.
The honest answer to that question would be something those terrified of the ever-progressing march of the Homosexual Menace are not going to want to hear; the Senate represents the opinions of the American people, while the House of Representatives does not. The current House majority is the product of snaky, wandering, gerrymandered district borders drawn around the craziest voters in many states. In other words, gerrymandering is a process wherein Republicans choose their voters, not where voters choose Republicans.
The House of Representatives has become a talk radio fantasyland, where Republicans represent a "real" America that is, in fact, manufactured entirely by unfairly drawn congressional districts. In the last election cycle, more people voted for Democrats, yet Republicans retained their house majority. Had those districts been drawn more honestly, the make up of the House would look a lot more like the voter turnout -- i.e., nowhere near as Republican.
And, as a result, nowhere near as crazy.
If people like Bryan Fischer want to know why the Senate isn't more like the House, there's the answer: A Senate seat is a statewide election that can't be gerrymandered. So the Senate isn't more like the House because Republicans weren't able to thwart democracy and steal that chamber.
And that's the bad news for the nutcases. People didn't speak out against ENDA because it wasn't safe to do so. The Senate represents America far, far better that the lunatic asylum of the lower chamber. If Republican Senators were "intimidated into silence by the bullies and bigots of Big Gay," as Fischer put it, it's because the average American voter is one of those bullies.
Outside of the entirely artificial environment of the gerrymandered district, institutional homophobia cannot survive. It's like an endangered creature, kept from extinction only by the population that still exists in zoos -- but in this case, there's only one zoo and voters are going to shut down the House Republican exhibit eventually. Eventually, their bones will be displayed next to other nearly extinct ideologies in museums, like segregationists and opponents of women's suffrage. Exhibit viewers will shake their heads and wonder how such absurd creatures ever existed at all.
The Senate looks like Gaytopia to the religious nutjobs because it reflects American reality. As Fischer and House Republicans fight against history, it seems they don't understand that history always wins and that they're already nearly extinct.
[photo via Wikimedia Commons]