Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Cotton Test for Legislative Legitimacy

Tom Cotton is getting grief today for saying that gays should not be upset about RFRA in Indiana and the proposed RFRA in Cotton's home state of Arkansas because "[i]n Iran, they hang you for the crime of being gay." For obvious reasons, his "at least you're not getting executed" defense of the RFRA is not going over well.

But what stood out for me is the other part of Cotton's interview. He also said that Iran is "currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ." He made that statement seconds after the "hang you for the crime of being gay" line. so why doesn't Cotton apply the same logic to that second statement? If gays should not be upset about RFRA because they are lucky they are not being hanged like in Iran, shouldn't Christians realize that they don't need RFRA because they are lucky that they are not imprisoned for proselytizing like they would be in Iran? Wouldn't "[w]e should focus on the most important priorities that our country faces right now" also be an argument against all these anti-gay legislative efforts?

There are going to be a lot of strange outcomes if we use what they do in Iran as the appropriate benchmark for evaluating American laws.