People like Mike Enzi are why Wyoming has such a hard time shedding its image as a place where the lives of gays and lesbians are at risk.
Recently Senator Enzi spoke to high school students in Greybull. Asked whether he supported LGBTQ rights, he responded by saying that “if a man walks into a bar wearing a tutu,” he deserves what he gets. That sounded like a United States Senator encouraging rednecks to beat the hell out of those they see as different.
After being called out on his statements, Enzi apologized. That might have mattered but for the fact that the “tutu” remark is the least of Enzi’s problems on LGBTQ issues.
It gets much worse.
Enzi said protections mandated by Washington aren’t “the best solution.” Odd coming from one who secretly encouraged Donald Trump to sign an Executive Order mandating protection for those who discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender, and other human beings.
Mike forgot to mention it to his constituents. Talking to constituents isn’t a priority for him. We learned what the Senator was up to through a news release from the Family Research Council, infamous for its bigotry and extreme anti-LGBT crusades.
That’s who told Wyoming voters that our Senator sought an Executive Order legalizing discrimination against the LGBT community and others based on religious beliefs. So much for state’s rights. Seems the “feds” can be either a boogeyman or a Senator’s best friend, depending on the objective.
In February, a bill designed to accomplish what Enzi implored Trump to do was introduced by Wyoming legislators. It drew such angry reaction that sponsors pulled the bill back. Enzi saw that. Did he employ one of those tired, old conservative slogans about the sacredness of limiting government overreach? Nope. Mike wants a government big enough to protect bigotry.
So, Mike turned to the feds. Rather than noticing many of his constituents weren’t in lock-step with rightwingers on this and choosing to take the high moral ground, he tried an end run. Voila, an Executive Order avoids the ugly political wrangling. To paraphrase what his older brothers said of little Mikey in the old cereal commercial, “Ask Donald to sign it. He’ll sign anything.”
For several weeks, a draft Executive Order has been batted around the White House. It’s a license to discriminate masked as “religious freedom.” It makes religious-based discrimination lawful “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State, or local governments.”
Is this Mike Enzi’s kind of America?
In that America, a man can rent a home but be turned away when he, his husband, and young children arrive to move in. In Mike Enzi’s America, two married women, otherwise imminently capable of providing a home for an abandoned child can be denied an adoption. A woman wearing a hijab may be denied medical care by providers who receive government grants to hire medical staff and purchase medical equipment. Critical social services, funded by taxpayers, could be denied to those who don’t share the provider’s belief that God is so small as to not include certain kinds of the people God created.
In that America, discrimination is legal when the bigot claims it’s based on conveniently-hateful religious beliefs.
Such an Executive Order wouldn’t survive Constitutional scrutiny any more than Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Neither does religion-based hate find expression in the Christian scripture Mike proclaims. No one, with the exception of the Family Research Council, justifies using religious beliefs to render others “less than” the image of God.
Instead of giving tacit approval to barroom beatings of gays, Mike Enzi could have resorted to his Christian beliefs. He could have been courageous when those students asked him about protecting the civil rights of some of their peers.
He could have said no to the extremists. Instead, the Senator has become one of them.