Credit where due: Conservative quipster/lobbyist Bill Vickery said during my monthly sit-in with him on his radio show Sunday morning that, when it came to religious rights and gay rights in Arkansas from the big to-do last week, “nothing has changed and everything has changed.”
That’s exactly it.
I deem that to be Vickery’s best line since he said Liza Minnelli would play Martha Shoffner in the movie. Or when he said voting for Mike Ross as Mike Beebe’s third term was like flirting with the pretty girl all night, then going home at closing time with her ugly sister.
What Vickery meant first was that law in Arkansas is unchanged. Asa Hutchinson’s big show of resistance actually left the status quo. Religion is freely practiced in our Bible Belt state, where no one had even remotely impeded it. And gays remain without expressed anti-discrimination protections in our law.
But, politically speaking, he meant that The Washington Post article was correct that the gay rights movement has won.
Indiana had to retreat. The business and entertainment industries demanded it.
Arkansas had to appear to retreat. Walmart and Acxiom and our fully warranted fear of another besmirched reputation demanded it.
And then Georgia, with such a bill under consideration, looked at Indiana, and then Arkansas, and said to hell with that.
With remarkable rapidity, the gay rights movement has so remade the prevailing American culture that American corporations, under new public pressure in both a micro and macro way from the immediate and intimate public connection of social media, must now get out in front of a cultural issue like that with a purely economic decision to attend to the emerging customer base.
Corporations make the real decisions and government falls in line. That’s an old thing and a bad thing on tax and regulatory policy. But apparently it’s a good thing and a progressive thing for the culture.
What it means on public school policy is a big fight, which is what we may be about to have in the state-usurped Little Rock district.
That’s another blog post.