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WATCH: The Surprising Way GOP Candidates Define 'Discrimination'

WATCH: The Surprising Way GOP Candidates Define 'Discrimination'


Republican presidential candidates draw a line between racism (which is bad) and homophobia (which is perhaps just fine).

Can you believe it? Marriage equality has been legal across the country for about a week and somehow the republic hasn't fallen! (Yet.)

But that hasn't stopped the doom-and-gloom predictions from antigay politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz, who called last week's ruling "the darkest 24 hours in our nation's history."

That's quite a statement, considering he's talking about a nation that's endured multiple wars, massacres, epidemics, natural disasters, attacks, and assassinations. Somehow, the marriage of couples who have spent their entire lives together -- often decades -- is darker than all of the pain and suffering that's come before.

One of the narratives emerging from anti-equality extremists is that discriminating against LGBTs is OK because it's not racism. Mike Huckabee had this to say: "First of all, what an insult to African-Americans, who were hosed in the street, who were beaten, who were truly discriminated against with separate restrooms, separate drinking fountains, separate entrances."

Huckabee seems to think that suffering can be scored, and that there's some kind of minimum threshhold of suffering beneath which it's acceptable for a minority to be mistreated.

Does he really believe that LGBTs haven't been "truly discriminated against?" He doesn't see discrimination, even after binational couples were separated by an uncaring government, after AIDS patients had their homes seized by homophobic families, after queer parents were denied access to their children, and after countless widows and widowers were denied access to their longtime partrners' estates?

And there's also a darker, coded meaning behind these words that you might've missed. Jindal and Huckabee and people like them keep saying that discriminating on the basis of race is different from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. But now? Well, they conveniently don't say, but you can probably guess if you've watched them address the issue of whether homosexuality is a choice.

"I don't know whether people are born that way," Huckabee said a few years back, "but one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice."

That's the difference they're talking about when they suggest that racism is different from homophobia. They're saying you can't choose your race, but maybe you can choose how gay you are.

Bobby Jindal echoed Huckabee's line: "It's offensive to equate evangelical Christians, Catholics, and others who view marriage as between a man and a woman as being racist. We're not racist."

Nobody's calling Christians racists. But some bigots are using religion as a smoke screen to hide their bigotry. It's the same thing that happened half a century ago with integration and interracial marriage, and it's just as toxic.

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Matt Baume