You know that ancient story about the blind men groping their way around an elephant? Well, sometimes the men are also unaware of each other — even here at GetReligion.
Last weekend I saw an AP story about the reaction to Mississippi’s new religious freedom law. Gay businessmen and their friends took such offense, they started putting up blue window stickers in protest — even though the law said nothing about homosexuality.
“Wow, this’ll be fun to carve apart,” I thought, not realizing that Bobby Ross Jr. had already done so. The article I read was a repost of the one he saw.
Yet our reviews offer different views on the partial blindness in Mississippi — and how the AP didn’t help clear things up before quoting the protesters.
First off, a favorite complaint of mine: balance. The AP cites three sources on the gay side, one from the opposition. And that one is an out-of-stater: Tony Perkins of the Washington, D.C.-based American Family Association. Nor, as Bobby and I both note, does the reporting (or editing) explain why gays fear a law that doesn’t mention them.
As the article says, it’s a close mirror of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Clinton in 1993. Gays and their straight friends are simply taking pre-emptive action:
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — In conservative Mississippi, some business owners who support equal treatment for gays and lesbians are pushing back against a new law that bans government from limiting the free practice of religion.
Critics fear the vaguely written law, which takes effect July 1, will prompt authorities to look away from anti-gay actions that are carried out in the name of religious beliefs — for example, photographers refusing to take pictures for same-sex couples because they believe homosexuality is a sin.
Hundreds of businesses, from hair salons to bakeries and art galleries, have started displaying round blue window stickers that declare: “We don’t discriminate. If you’re buying, we’re selling.”
The sticker campaign started this month in response to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant’s signing the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The law says government cannot put a substantial burden on religious practices, without a compelling reason.
Granted, the lede tries to limit the article to the blue-sticker campaign. I wonder if that was to avoid having to cite all sides for the sake of a simpler story? Well, it doesn’t give us a complete view of public reaction to the law. It’s a better gauge of the AP’s reaction.
And the reaction, of course, of gay merchants in Mississippi: