LITTLE ROCK — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is in a hurry.
On March 26, Pence, a former Republican Congressman who wants to be president, signed Senate Bill 101, extravagantly titled "The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act." It allows individuals and companies to assert that their exercise of religion is likely to be substantially burdened as a defense in legal proceedings, purporting to hold religious organizations, in effect, harmless against claims by LGBTers of discrimination.
But LGBTers and their supporters pushed back hard, and yesterday, Pence, clearly vexed, criticized the opposition, which includes Apple’s Tim Cook, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, for misunderstanding the intent of the legislation, saying his opponents are experts in smear campaigns. Pence is an evangelical Christian, and as a Congressman, he championed a constitutional same-sex marriage ban.
Fearful of an impending nationwide boycott, the governor told the legislature to give him a bill by Friday clarifying the law, but only to avoid the ever-growing national boycott of Indiana.
A solitary reporter noticed that Pence has fled to Little Rock, where the GOP-dominated legislature has passed its own “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” modeled on the Indiana law which Pence is scurrying to “fix.”
Here at the State Capitol in Little Rock, Pence, widely regarded as one of many GOP politicians wanting to move into the White House in 2017, was greeted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008, winning the Iowa Caucus. Huckabee, hoping again to capture the evangelical vote as he did in 2008, will soon announce that he is running for president again.
After driving all night from Indianapolis to Little Rock, the solitary reporter caught up with the two presidential candidates and observed them squaring off in the Confederate War Prisoners Memorial on the State Capitol grounds.
“I’m a minister,” Huckabee said to Pence, “which means I’m more righteous than you,”
“Not only that,” Huckabee continued, “you’re on Confederate grounds, and you are a Northerner. Us true Southerners don’t like Northerners."
“Well I'll be damned,” Pence said in rejoinder, as he pulled out his pistol, provided by Wayne LaPierre’s NRA, to begin a duel. “I am the epitome of Hoosier Hospitality, while you haven’t lost any weight, you’re still way too fat, and people in Arkansas hardly even know what basketball is.”
Much to the regret of both men, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, fearing a media disaster, ordered them both to shake hands and pretend to like each other.