You can thank America's most notorious county clerk for the sudden onset of discriminatory anti-LGBT laws sweeping across the South and Midwest.
The legal team behind Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples after the Supreme Court found state bans unconstitutional in 2015, is also the legal team behind an organized effort to prohibit localities from passing anti-discriminatory measures in an effort to protect the rights of LGBT people -- in every case, citing religious freedom as the justification to discriminate.
CBS News reported that Mathew Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, has helped to draft so-called "religious freedom" legislation for conservative lawmakers in at least 20 states, including North Carolina, which finds itself in a whirlwind of controversy after signing one of Staver's bills, a so-called bathroom ban. The law bans people from using bathrooms that don't match the sex indicated on their birth certificates, effectively discriminating against transgender people.
According to Media Matters' Rachel Percelay, Liberty Council, which has been designated as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has battled against the push for local non-discrimination protections to include LGBT people since at least 2012. Citing religious freedom, Staver's group has pushed some of the nation's most regressive laws in recent memory. The right-wing organization has deployed lawyers to all 50 states to help draft such legislation.
“It is only about being free to pursue your faith,” Staver assured CBS News. “We have no interest in discriminating against anyone.”
But as Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok noted, Liberty Counsel is a "group that regularly portrays gay people as perverse, diseased pedophiles putting Western civilization at risk."
For his part, Staver appeared unfazed by the criticism, even shrugging off the overwhelming threats of boycott from corporations with stakes in states that even consider Staver's discriminatory bills.
"They're not gonna follow through," Staver said, ignoring the successful boycotts in Indiana in 2015 and the corporate pressure successfully placed on Georgia's governor to not sign a Staver drafted bill earlier this year.
"It's a bluff. They're not leaving," Staver insisted.
Despite Staver's assertions, since North Carolina passed its own Staver's customized bill, HB2, two major corporations have announced that they are pulling back plans to add a total of 650 jobs in the state and at least one report says the Staver backed HB2 will cost the North Carolina economy millions.
[H/T: Joe My God]