A free press makes a difference. Here is proof.

On January 23, Leslie Postal and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel wrote that nearly 160 religious schools receiving vouchers from the state of Florida openly discriminate against students, families, and staff who are gay. Voucher schools drain $1 billion away from public education every year in Florida, and state legislators want to expand vouchers until they are available to every student in the state.

The next day, opinion writer Scott Maxwell of the same newspaper wrote more about public-funded religious  schools rejecting students and families. He wrote:

One school told a mother — a firefighter married to U.S. Air Force veteran — that her children were unfit to be educated there simply because the couple was two women.

The two women served their country and community. But the school — which received $371,000 in state scholarship money last year — told the family to get an education elsewhere.

On January 28, the Orlando Sentinel wrote an editorial criticizing the major corporations that declare their opposition to discrimination yet have poured millions into support of Florida’s discriminatory voucher program. Ouch! Profits or principles? The editorial writer reviewed the list of major corporations that support the voucher programs while declaring their opposition to bias.

The first corporation that announced it would no longer subsidize bigotry was Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank.

Then Wells Fargo dropped out.

Valerie Strauss wrote about the defections here.

Others have pulled out, including Wyndham Hotels, Allegiant Airlines and Rosen Hotels. Most corporations don’t stop and think and realize that every dollar that goes to an unregulated, unaccountable religious school is taken away from the state’s underfunded public schools. 

There may be other defectors. The defections may only be temporary.

Vouchers open the way to a slippery slope.

The Supreme Court may decide, if asked, that a school may ban the child of gay parents if its religious beliefs dictate the child’s exclusion. After all, it previously decided, with its two Trump appointees, that a baker could refuse to sell his cake to a gay couple.

That’s what Betsy DeVos has spent her life advancing: a world in which one’s religious beliefs trump others’ civil rights.

Today the target is gays. Who will it be next time? African-Americans? Jews? Muslims?