Jeb Bush is in favor of anti-discrimination laws, as long as he doesn’t have to sign them

Speaking to a group of startup employees in San Francisco yesterday, Jeb Bush emphatically stated that he opposes all manner of discrimination against LGBT people, including in the workplace.

Said Bush, quoted by Time, “I don’t think you should be discriminated because of your sexual orientation. Period. Over and out.”

But when it came to pinning himself down to supporting federal anti-discrimination laws, Bush sounded a decidedly more cautious tone, saying that the issue, like he previously claimed with respect to marriage, is best left to the states.

Jeb Bush, original photo via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Jeb Bush, original photo via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Bush went on to re-hash the cliche hypothetical of the religious florist who is asked to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. Bush reiterated his position that the florist should have to sell flowers to LGBT people, but shouldn’t be compelled to participate in the wedding, which they presumably would be if they knew the flowers were doing to be used in a wedding ceremony.

In other words, Bush has changed precisely none of his positions. He merely softened his tone for a more progressive audience. He supports LGBT rights, as long as he doesn’t have to be the person who signs those rights into law. He supports equality, as long as someone else takes the heat from conservatives who oppose it. This is the strategy that has earned him the title of “moderate” in a Republican field that, by and large, can’t figure out how to communicate rabidly conservative policies with a smile on their face.

Bush’s comments came on the same day that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is already illegal in all 50 states. To my knowledge, no Republican candidate has yet commented on the EEOC’s ruling, which will likely wind up before the Supreme Court in the coming years, but anyone who’s committed to the “states’ rights” position on LGBT non-discrimination would seem to have committed themselves to opposing the ruling.

Jeb Bush is going to earn some plaudits in the media for putting an accepting foot forward on LGBT equality. He hasn’t earned them. He’s simply re-formatted his existing positions to sound a little bit nicer.

The underlying policies, and their consequences, remain the same.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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36 Responses to “Jeb Bush is in favor of anti-discrimination laws, as long as he doesn’t have to sign them”

  1. Demosthenes says:

    Sir/Madam: in this thread and one other a spammer responds to my posts.

  2. Demosthenes says:


    Moderator — the comment I respond to us spam. Please delete.

  3. andy.lotiya says:

    The current market is nothing but debt fueled smoke.;;;
    Jobs and job growth. Very funny, that was a good one. You know there are actually people out there who don’t know what is happening and believe that. Good one!!..
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  4. Moderator4 says:

    I will share them with the other Mods. We thank you. :-)

  5. 2karmanot says:

    Yep, pure Bull Bush.

  6. 2karmanot says:

    Sending you a dozen roses Mod. :-)

  7. Bributly says:

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  8. Houndentenor says:

    They never liked public accommodation laws and haven’t since they were forced to let black people eat at the same lunch counter as white people.

  9. Bill_Perdue says:


  10. The_Fixer says:

    I think the point about rebranding, no matter who does it, is that it doesn’t help working people, the LGBT communities, etc. It’s very much like GM announcing a new line of pretty stuff in their cars and declining to warn people that their cars are deathmobiles which might turn themselves off unexpectedly, like when you’re making a lane change on the freeway.

    Oh, of course. It’s not intended to help working people and the LGBT communities. It wasn’t designed to. It’s just advertising copy designed to sell something, whether it be cars or a politician.

    And yes, I didn’t mention in my first comment that the “epiphany” didn’t come through some sudden change of heart – it came as a result of the numbers.

    Yes, they can read sometimes.

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    I think the point about rebranding, no matter who does it, is that it doesn’t help working people, the LGBT communities, etc. It’s very much like GM announcing a new line of pretty stuff in their cars and declining to warn people that their cars are deathmobiles which might turn themselves off unexpectedly, like when you’re making a lane change on the freeway.

    Obama and HRH HRC can read the polls and lacking any semblance of principle, adapt accordingly but not in terms of actions. DOMA was not repealed and ENDA was not passed.

  12. The_Fixer says:

    Not to defend reprehensible conduct, but at least they realized the winds of change were blowing. The Republicans and certain Democrats, have had no such epiphany, in spite of what Jeb! may want us to think.

    This is an inartful attempt to separate Silicon Valley money from technocrats. They’re smarter than he is, I don’t think it will work.

  13. The_Fixer says:

    Isn’t that the most ridiculous argument ever advanced by a side known for ridiculous and absolutely baseless, pointless arguments?

    Anyone who uses that argument needs to be sat on a high stool in the public square with a Dunce cap on their head. With a large sign in front of them explicitly stating why they are there. Public humiliation is sometimes the only way to effectively deal with complete idiocy.

  14. The_Fixer says:

    I think that, in the time since that ridiculous phrase was coined, we’ve come to learn that the modern version of conservatism is anything but compassionate. The term was suspect back then, it’s since been proven to be pure, unadulterated cow excrement.

  15. Demosthenes says:

    The thought of the latest idiotic member of the Bush family being president makes me sick to my stomach.

  16. Moderator4 says:

    You are banned, ChewyChew1. Good-bye.

  17. ChewyChew1 says:

    just like the st paddy bog trotter parade??Why not invite people who like fucking farm animals? or better yet nambla to the st paddy’s day parade¿ …according to you guys those freaks can’t help it they were born that way .right? I work in the garment center for 20 freaking years gays are part of my everyday life …they don’t bother me one iota . I don’t care how they give each other hepatitis :-D but if some corn husking s hicks out in the stix don’t want the gays in their mosques or churches more power to them . as for cash transactions green is the great equalizer. Money doesn’t discriminate but if some religious baker doesn’t want to make a two entwined Weewee cake in the shape of a heart for some gay occasion …just maybe he’s fucking offended by that even though you and I aren’t and wants absoultly nothing to do with it .
    why can’t he reserve the right to to turn down someone’s business ? Its not like its a utility or the same as being born black you have no choice if you were born black …is bi sexual a choice they can choose either . whatever floats yer boat man .you call yourself bi sexual but putting another mans dong in your mouth was clearly your choice to have a homosexual moment
    So anyway
    NO MATTER what you say or do corn husking rube believes with all his heart that homos do indeed have a choice . just like you may have a choice or the bisexual ! you may be straight but are just not attracted to Asians with their frying pan faces ….they may turn you off, are you discriminating now? Or to not be automatically labeled a racist do you fuck that yellow strange? Its not racist or bigoted its a highly personal sexual choice and preference …it doesn’t make you a bigot or a racist .
    But you on the other hand have such an intolerance for others peoples beliefs which you clearly demonstrate in your posts. who in the hell are you and Mario junior to tell people in another state how to live because you can’t tolerate their beliefs or respect the laws they want enacted ?what’s next are you gonna force the Muslims to openly accept the gays against their will? . have a little respect and tolerance for other peoples beliefs for crying out loud
    Politically Correct bullshit waste of time and breath

  18. ChewyChew1 says:

    have no fear jeb is never taking the nomination hes to much of a leftwing dunce

  19. ChewyChew1 says:

    Most religions are intolerant of homosexuality but why would you want to be part of a group who doesn’t want you?. Besides people have a right to worship what ever make believe monster in the sky they want the way they want . hell the Irish Catholic bog trotters here in NYC won’t let the gays march in their silly drunken parade . and why should they? The day is not about who likes vaginas or wee weee’s in their mouths …is it?personally I could care less either way . Thiers bigger problems in this world .

  20. emjayay says:

    Remember the “compassionate conservative”?

  21. FLL says:

    …selling someone flowers or a cake or renting a hall or catering is NOT the same thing as participating in a same-sex wedding ceremony.

    Thanks for bringing up that point, and I wish people would mention it more often. A basic distinction in civil rights law is when you are serving the public (i.e., selling your products or services to the public). If that is the case, you are bound by civil rights legislation. Selling a cake or flowers is no different than selling people lunch at a lunch counter. If you let people pick and choose when they are selling to the public, where does it stop? Does the hostess at the local Denny’s get to decide whether a couple looks “too gay”? Does the hostess give them a seat if she decides that it’s just a “business lunch”? If anti-gay business owners are going to go that way, things are just going to get crazy.

    True to form, the anti-gay side has pushed the envelope in an effort to discredit civil rights legislation altogether. Anti-gay provocateurs have asked bakers to write messages on their cakes like “gay sinners go to hell,” followed by a short Bible verse. Of course, a secular provocateur could just as easily go to a Christian baker and ask them to write a similarly offensive message on a cake like “Why doesn’t Jesus eat M&M’s? Because they fall through the holes in his hands.” So now the courts have to sort out the difference between selling a product and forcing a merchant to write offensive speech or hate speech. The majority opinion seems to favor not legally forcing merchants to write hate speech. In other words, a decorated cake is the product (devoid of hate speech), and all members of the public are equally entitled to buy the product. Don’t things get complicated when anti-gay provocateurs are always trying to create test cases?

  22. Kate W. says:

    HW was a mediocre POTUS, GW was a catastrophe…and we’re to expect better from Jeb, who “Governed” a state that ran the 2000 election into the trash heap of hanging chads..forcing SCOTUS to save the day for his bro…no more bush….double entendre, intended.

  23. JT says:

    What he says means nothing. He’s not running for state office and is essentially saying that it’s up to other people to decide in states without such protections.

    Like all the Bushies, this guy is a charlatan. He tries to come across as moderate by saying things that don’t commit him to anything while he toes the hard line for the crazies in his party of hate. Flush him. No more Bushes! The country can’t take another one!

  24. Houndentenor says:

    He represents the dilemma of every Republican who is seriously running for president. The positions he has to take to win primaries will doom him in the general election. If they weren’t such sorry excuses for humanity I might feel bad for them, but they spent 40 years creating this mess so they deserve to be fucked over this way.

  25. Houndentenor says:

    Now that I’ve had a little time to think about what he said, I’m more bothered by it. My initial reaction was “Duh, many states have already enacted such laws.” But he knows that. What he’s actually saying is that it’s perfectly acceptable for states NOT to enact such laws if they don’t want to and that the federal government shouldn’t pass any such laws. So basically he’s just fine with discrimination against gay people.

  26. UncleBucky says:

    “I don’t think you should be discriminated because of your sexual orientation. Period. Over and out.”

    “BUT….” not in wedding cakes. Other pastries, but not wedding cakes.

    That’s our Jebya!

  27. Don Chandler says:

    He’s squealing in SF.

  28. Doug105 says:


  29. Butch1 says:

    That reminds me of the homophobic response to marriage where they used to say that gays could always marry: as long as it was a member of the opposite sex.

  30. Bill_Perdue says:

    That’s also Hillary and Obama speak. In “… Clinton ran for president while openly opposing gay marriage. If she is to be believed, she also opposed gay marriage as recently as 2013, long after a majority of Americans already held a more gay-friendly position.” An it’s Obama speak. He didn’t rebrand and support marriage until shortly before the 2012 election and after the polls convinced this campaign that most voters supported marriage equality. , Would the subset of Democrats who thought 2008 opposition to gay marriage should prevent a man from becoming CEO in 2013 really support the 2015 presidential campaign of a woman who openly opposed gay marriage until last year?”

  31. Bill_Perdue says:

    Republicans are late in jumping on the rebranding bandwagon. They probably won’t catch up this election cycle except to pretend that they had nothing to do with Bill Clinton’s deregulation, his gutting welfare and his NAFTA.

    Democrat/Dixiecrats are very good at rebranding at the last minute but remain the enemies of immigrant and imported workers, the antiwar movement, good health care, the Bill of Rights etc.

    Dixiecrat HRH HRC is an example. Although a Goldwater supporter born in the Midwest, she had no problem switching to Democrat/Dixiecrat politics who favored all or part of DOMA until the last minute: “Hillary Clinton evolved on same-sex marriage within the first 72 hours of her presidential run, as her campaign said Wednesday that the former secretary of state now backs marriage equality as a US constitutional right.

    The about-face, dropped as Clinton was preparing the second of two progressive-leaning appearances in Iowa, represents a significant – if not completely unexpected – shift from her previous statements that same-sex marriage should be legislated state-by-state rather than on the federal level.”

  32. Indigo says:

    Notice the “state level” coding? That’s Confederate-speak.

  33. BeccaM says:

    It’s nothing but a flimflam, and here he’s pretending to the libertarian angle on LGBT (and other groups’ civil rights), which is that it shouldn’t happen…but neither should it be illegal.

    This is 100% in keeping with the current GOP orthodoxy, by the way.

    And it’s a bullshit position because selling someone flowers or a cake or renting a hall or catering is NOT the same thing as participating in a same-sex wedding ceremony.

  34. FLL says:

    If Jeb only supports civil rights at the state level, and not at the federal level, then he would have vetoed DADT repeal (or the 2009 hate crimes bill), which would have been disastrous for civil rights in general. The veto threat by his brother, George W. Bush, was always understood, which is why no national civil rights legislation of any kind passed during George W. Bush’s term of office. I think McCain and Romney were also opposed to federal-level civil rights protection. A presidential veto of national civil rights bills is obviously much worse that a signature.

  35. 2karmanot says:

    Jebya is a wishy washy little piggy not ready for the national trough.

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