Friday, March 27, 2015

"No Homo" Economicus

I wrote sometime last year about the blind spot on the part of most economists about queer issues. At the time, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was languishing in a House Committee.

Thus far, it seems the situation hasn't changed much. Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a "religious freedom" law allowing businesses to refuse service that violates their religious beliefs. It appears in the 21st century, businesses now have not only free speech, but also religious convictions.

Just like in the previous century, state religious freedom laws largely serve to supersede federal non-discrimination laws. Whereas with last century, these laws were largely directed at maintaining the system of racial segregation, nowadays religious freedom means discrimination against the queer community.

There are presently 19 states that have these laws on the books. Despite the fact that such discriminatory measures are almost always rebuked by economists decades after their repeal, economists with a public platform rarely take the opportunity to defend the "free market" so far as it pertains to actual freedom.

Who knows? Maybe they'll start paying attention next week.