Beware. This post contains many pictures. Videos too!
As you might have heard, Indiana's governor Mike Pence recently passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law states precisely this:
On its face, the law appears to protect the rights of business owners to defer to their religious preferences when deciding how to engage in business (e.g., who they will or will not serve). Seems nice, right? Except that no. It's not. Although the law itself does not specifically mention same-sex customers, that's precisely who the law is intended to discriminate against. Governor Pence, in the face of the backlash against the law, is trying to "clarify the intent of the law."
This makes Governor Pence a liar. Let's consider this for a moment. Here's Governor Pence passionately supporting Eric Miller and his lobby group Advance America:
To Governor Pence, Eric Miller is an inspiration. To anyone with any sense, he's a bigot. While Governor Pence seeks to sugercoat the intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, here's Eric Miller's revelation about its true intent.
Thanks for the clarification, Mr. Miller. He makes the intent of the law abundantly clear. It's not to protect religious freedoms; it's to protect the rights of religious people to blatantly discriminate against the LGBT community. So far, I haven't linked to a single liberal outlet, which I'm pretty happy about. It's best to hear what people believe from their own bigoted mouths.
But maybe Governor Pence got confused, supporting Eric Miller despite his beliefs about LGBT couples. Nah. Here's Governor Pence being asked about marriage. Pay particular attention to the question he's asked at the one-minute mark:
And then there's what he said to the House of Representatives at a hearing at the 108th Congress:
His intent is clear. From his own mouth. Not from anyone trying to disparage him by claiming that the intent of the law is anything but what it is. He says it himself.
Twenty states—most recently Arkansas—have passed similar laws allowing for businesses to discriminate against LGBT couples and individuals. This is unfortunate because this issue was already decided upon. Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that...
So what's a "place of public accommodation," you ask? Well, the law does a good job of defining it:
Yes, that includes bakeries and florists and any other place that is run by racists, sexists, people who'd love to discriminate against members of other religions and nationalities. Why doesn't it include homophobes? Because that's the civil rights issue of our time. If you're a business owner whose spiritual beliefs include the belief that the sons of Ham and the sons of Seth shouldn't mix, you can't use your religious beliefs to discriminate against that interracial couple.
But laws protecting the rights of interracial couples didn't used to exist. Here's the story of the Lovings:
The parallels between the struggles that the Lovings faced and the struggles that LGBT couples face may not be immediately apparent to the homophobes in the Indiana state legislature, but I hope they are to you.
Because I'm a writer. And I write gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters. I intend to continue to do so. If that's not your cup of tea, you might not want to read my stories. And that's totally fine with me.
I'm not alone. But if you do happen to disagree with me, here's a great video inviting you to visit the lovely state of Indiana:
I'm proud to see that Oklahoma didn't go the way of Indiana. Don't get me wrong. Oklahoma tried. Our 55th legislature introduced House Bill 1371 in February of this year. It was penned by Representative Chuck Strohm and had a very similar wording as the Indiana law:
Then there's the genius of Representative Emily Virgin, who added a tiny amendment to the bill this month:
And...that killed the bill. The House leadership pulled it from the floor, and Virgin's amendment wasn't even debated. I guess they were afraid that extreme conservative representatives might actually vote for the amendment, and the House leadership realized that it would adversely affect business interests in the state of Oklahoma. Smart move.
Now there's Josh Driver, the mind behind the Open For Service campaign. It allows businesses, individuals, and religious organizations to express their support for equality by posting stickers on their entrances or anywhere else. You can get your own, and all profits will go to SCORE, which supports small businesses throughout the country by offering assistance in management, organization, and marketing.
I'm getting one, the publishing company I work for is getting one, and you should get one too. It's a good cause, and you can support equality and small business all at the same time.