Freedom's Just Another Word for Bigotry.

I feel like if there's anything positive about this new spate of "license to discriminate" legislation cropping up in state after state in response to gay marriage decisions by federal courts, it's that it crystallizes the mission of this brand of Christianity, which is to exclude people. They cry they're being persecuted for their religion, but it must be clear to everyone by now that these laws are about revulsion toward non-gender conforming people. It must, right? It kind of separates the soft bigots from the hard bigots.

It's interesting stuff in the midst of all my reading about the 17th century Puritans, the original American Christians, as we write our musical about Hester Prynne. Not that it's a coincidence these topics are current -- that's the whole reason we like the story. The Puritans were just as preoccupied with who's in and who's out, probably more so because they believed the lists had been made at the beginning of time and could not be changed. So they were obsessed with trying to determine ways of knowing who was on which list, so that they'd know whom to let in and whom to keep out. They of course couldn't know, and, in fact, it was sinful to suggest that one could know, but that didn't stop them from speculating on all kinds of outward indications that one might be saved or damned and banishing or executing people who disagreed with the approved methodology. Underlying everything was a great deal of personal anxiety because of course no one could even know whether or not they themselves were chosen. At least now your average Southern Baptist can rest assured he's going to heaven if he accepts Jesus Christ as his blah blah blah. I appreciate the Puritans for that -- at least they had rules. All today's Christians have to do is be super sanctimonious and they go straight to heaven.

I guess we'll know more in June when the Supreme Court weighs in. We'll either end up with a federal right to gay marriage but a bunch of states where you can't buy flowers or cake. Or, if it goes the other way, then all these desperate religious freedom laws will be moot and Alabama and Indiana can go back to the 17th century. Most people in my safe little circle of urban liberals anticipate a positive ruling to come out of the cases before the Court right now, and it's hard to imagine any other result since the argument has been framed in classic conservative terms. But I'm not feeling so sanguine. With judges like Thomas and Scalia, who are less concerned with justice than with creating a world where everyone is forced to follow their rules, there's no end to perfidy.

Indiana hurts particularly because I grew up there. Of course when I was there I wanted out and I fled as soon as I could. But my family is still there, and, though I have no illusions about it being much different than it was, I have to say I was moved last year when the Court of Appeals ruled Indiana's gay marriage ban illegal and suddenly C and I were still married when we visited my folks at Christmas.

It gives me hope that my mom is there fighting the good fight. She's remarkable. I don't think I have the stamina to be a liberal in Indiana, but she's been at it for decades. She'll give you an earful about Mike Pence. He's a grade A asshole. You almost have to be to get elected in Indiana.