On my way back home from Arkansas, I was listening to the local Public Broadcasting Service station, and heard a story about the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” that had passed Indiana’s legislature, and was signed into law by their governor. Admittedly, I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to legislation such as this. I wasn’t even aware that it was being brought up – much less passing the legislature and being signed by the governor of a state. I was even more shocked when I heard that similar legislation was being considered by the state I had just left (Arkansas), where the bill had passed one chamber of its government.
Now, I am not going to get into the specifics of the laws. For those still wondering, I am against legislation of this type – but perhaps not for the reasons that you may think. However, I am going to focus a bit more on why this legislation is completely off-base. Let’s start off with some of the statements of support concerning why this legislation was necessary.
“It is vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana. It was therefore important to pass Senate Bill 101 in 2015 in order to help protect churches, Christian businesses and individuals from those who want to punish them because of their Biblical beliefs!” –Eric Miller, Advance America (Indianapolis Star, 27Mar15)
Really? Let’s take a little inventory on this statement. First, the individual making the statement is part of ‘Advance America’ which is formerly known as ‘Citizens Concerned for the Constitution’ a notoriously Right-Wing group that believes that President Obama is not eligible for the Presidency because he was born in Kenya – and also advocates that the President is not a Christian, but a Muslim. Yeah. That tired old “Secret Muslim” theory. That should be enough to tear the entire statement apart, just for “nutball reactionist” alone. However, let’s dig into the statement itself.
The legislation is meant to protect “CHRISTIAN businesses and individuals” (my emphasis added). The bill is not meant for others, though the article notes that there are some Judaic members that attended the closed door, private session that the governor held for the signing (so much for transparent government). So let’s amend Mr. Miller’s single-focus statement to something a bit more fitting: the bill is meant to protect business and individuals of a Judeo-Christian aspect. I would state Abrahamic beliefs as well, but that didn’t seem to fit – particularly with the folks who attended the private event surrounding the signing.
Ok, with this “clearly” established (as muddy as it really is) from Mr. Miller’s statement, let’s remember something here. Mr Miller is not Mike Pence, the governor who put his name on this piece of legislation, giving it life as a law. As befits a politician (unethical bastards that they are), Gov. Pence has spent much of his time stating that he didn’t see the legislation as “discriminatory” and would not have signed the bill if he thought that it was. So let’s have a look at the bouncing, new-born baby that this legislation is.
In essence, the bill is a response to a handful of incidents that have happened, where Christian businesses have been held to the fire for not catering to LGBT needs, such as catering weddings or providing floral arrangements for those same events. In essence, the bill, as it stands, protects a business from providing services to individuals that clash with the owner’s religious beliefs. Ok, seems not that bad, right? Well, it provides the start of a slippery slope that COULD be utilized to turn LGBT members of communities around the state of Indiana into citizens with similar natures that the Black of this country had in the pre-Civil Rights era. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look.
Pre-Civil Rights, blacks could not enter the front door of certain establishments, having to go around back to where the kitchen’s back door was located to purchase a meal. In essence, they were told that because they were black, they had to go out back, buy a meal, and eat in the filthy alleyway. If it was raining or the weather was extreme in nature: “too fucking bad, ni**er” was the typical sentiment. Under the bill, LGBT folks can be treated the same way.
Remember that scene from Star Wars Episode IV? That is what can happen under this newly enacted law. But its fairly easy to tell that C3PO and R2D2 are not human. How do we tell who is LGBT and who isn’t? Well the Nazis solved this little problem by forcing anyone who was Jewish, LGBT, Gypsy, etc etc ….. well, in the words of Peter Gibbons from Office Space:
You know, the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear.
Ok, I admit, I am making an extreme version of a point. However, I do not think its far out of the ballpark either. When we talk about making legislation that protects a business owner’s or an individual’s “right” to discriminate….we’re not that far down the road from kristallnacht, in my opinion. However, I would like to point out the other side of this coin….
People absolutely do have the right to discriminate, as do businesses. There’s not much we can do about the discriminatory aspects where individuals are concerned, until they start to inhibit the free-rights of those individuals they are “discriminating” against. But in the case of businesses discriminating – there is an option. We don’t frequent their business any longer. Which is what many businesses and conventions – and even states (California announced that no state workers would be permitted to attend any business functions in the state of Indiana as long as discriminatory practices are condoned by legislation like this) have chosen to do. I travel during the Summers. I have relatives in Indiana. I will come to the state of Indiana as little as I possibly can.
Its laws and legislative manners such as these that make me feel ashamed to be an American. Take that any way you like. I actually raised my hand, swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States, and wore an active duty Air Force uniform for eight years. I believe I earned that right. I’m not LGBT. I’m a straight guy that loves the form of a woman in all its aspects. However, I have friends, family (chosen), and family (DNA-related) that are member of the LGBT community. And I cherish their rights, and their freedoms that allow them to openly (as much as they desire) be exactly who they are without fear. I defended that right when I wore my uniform. Its been a long time since I was in the military service, but that oath of enlistment still applies to me today, and into the future of tomorrow. I may be one voter – but my one voice has others singing right along with it.
I leave you with a quote – which tells me precisely why I need to stand up and shout my opposition to legislation such as this; why I must take a stand for people that I am not a part of; and why I mentioned the slippery slope earlier.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. –Martin Niemoller
The typical cry to such actions is “Never Again!” Governor Pence; the state legislature of Indiana — you needed to heed that statement. Congratulations, you have started us down the Path to wearing flair…