No doubt some conservatives would invoke anything short of global warning as a last-line defense against same-sex marriage. But is it really beyond imagining that many conservatives and non-conservatives, too, might be genuinely agitated about religious freedom for its own sake? Certainly beyond imagining by Hillary Clinton, who was quick to tweet, “Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today.” Beyond imagining by all the technology, business, and sports and entertainment eminences now bullying Indiana with boycotts, not that these folks ever cared much (or knew much) about religious freedom in the first place.
The Times news story devoted almost two thirds of its coverage to these critics, far more than to any supporters or to Indiana’s governor. It did spare two paragraphs for a quote from Douglas Laycock, one of the nation’s foremost church-state scholars. “The hysteria over this law is so unjustified,” he said, rejecting the anti-gay sentiments being attributed to it.
I’ve been following and admiring Professor Laycock’s views on religious freedom controversies for years (his mixed evaluation of the Catholic bishops’ venture into these waters can be found in the June 15, 2012 issue of Commonweal); I have no idea whether to classify him as liberal or conservative. Unfortunately, his full explanation of what the Indiana law actually says and is likely to do appears in the conservative Weekly Standard. The Times account could waste only one paragraph on such details.