National Review Online columnist Dennis Prager declared that he believes tolerance for LGBT Americans could lead to a fascist takeover - a threat he once considered "overwrought" but now sees as a reality.
In an August 27 column for NRO, Prager asserted that "tolerance" is only a mirage for leftist efforts to impose state tyranny on the American people. To support this claim, Prager cited high-profile anti-discrimination cases, as well as a new California law protecting the rights of transgender students:
I have never written that there is a threat of fascism in America. I always considered the idea overwrought. But now I believe there really is such a threat -- and it will come draped not in an American flag, but in the name of tolerance and health.
Last week, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that an event photographer's refusal on religious grounds to shoot the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple amounted to illegal discrimination.
This is what happened to a florist in Washington State who had always sold flowers to gay customers, but refused to be the florist for a gay wedding: sued and fined.
This is what happened to a baker in Oregon who had always sold his goods to gays, but refused to provide his products to a gay wedding: sued and fined.
This is what happened in Massachusetts, Illinois, and elsewhere to Catholic Charities, historically the largest adoption agency in America. Their placing children with married (man-woman) couples, rather than with same-sex couples, was deemed intolerant and a violation of the law. In those and other states, Catholic Charities has left adoption work.
In the name of tolerance -- fighting sexual harassment -- five- and six-year-old boys all over the country are brought to the police for innocently touching a girl.
In the name of tolerance -- girls' high school teams in California and elsewhere must now accept male players who feel female.
In the name of tolerance - businesses cannot fire a man who one day shows up on the sales floor dressed as a woman.
In citing the New Mexico case to proclaim creeping totalitarianism, Prager joins the right-wing outcry against the notion that gays, like racial and religious minorities, ought to be protected from arbitrary discrimination. Civil rights laws protecting racial minorities don't outlaw personal racism on the part of business owners, but they do prohibit engaging in discrimination as a business practice. The New Mexico decision - and the Washington and Oregon anti-discrimination laws Prager cited - affirm that the same principle applies for LGBT individuals.
Furthermore, in highlighting Catholic Charities' discontinuation of adoption services in Massachusetts and Illinois, Prager failed to note that the organization freely chose to shutter its adoption agencies rather than serve same-sex couples in those states.
Meanwhile, for a pundit who professes his fear of a tyrannical regime taking root in the U.S., it's strange that Prager openly defends the right of schools and businesses to discriminate against transgender individuals. Only a commentator as deeply anti-LGBT as Prager could fail to see the obvious problems with giving employers the right to fire someone simply because of his or her gender identity.
Considering that he compared the Supreme Court's marriage equality rulings this summer to Egypt's military coup, Prager's screams of "fascism" are hardly out of character. What's troubling is that so many figures on the right have joined Prager in the Orwellian campaign to portray every pro-LGBT policy - including marriage equality, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and transgender protections - as assaults on freedom.