Fighting for an Equal Indiana

By this point, it seems like everyone has an opinion about Indiana. Our governor, Mike Pence, signed into action a controversial bill — and the backlash has been immense.

Indiana is not the only state with a Religious Freedom Reformation Act (or RFRA) law on the books.* There’s even a federal version that President Clinton signed in 1993. One major thing that Indiana does not have, that is the big sticking point, is any sort of laws that protect someone from discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. If Pence truly believed he that RFRA was not about discrimination, then he should have no issue including measures to make sure LGBT become a protected legal class. But as he’s very publicly said, he has no intentions of doing such.

While I understand why business are speaking out against and cutting ties with Indiana… And I do believe there needs to be some sort of severe consequence so Pence understands how serious the ramifications of this bill truly are… And I agree with it to some extent…  I really do hate this wide brush the entire state is being painted with.

The term “Hoosier hospitality” has been thrown around a lot — and I’m here to tell you it is a real thing. We may not have always gotten it right, but generally, despite how you may actually feel about someone, you do your best not to be rude to them, and if anything you do what you can to be kind, help others, and make them feel welcome. You’re hospitable because it’s the right thing to do. It’s a common ideology here in the Midwest.

Discrimination may not have been the intent of this law, but you offer protection to one group of people and offer no protection whatsoever to another group to do so… well, that’s discrimination. The purpose of a democracy, of government as we fought for it, is to provide the greatest amount of liberty (ie. freedom) to all of its people without infringing on the liberties of others. We’ve built a state where there is a group of people who not only don’t have equal freedoms, but where any idea of their liberties are thrown aside in favor for another group.

And let’s get one thing straight here. Christians, as a general and large group, are not to blame here. Mike Pence and his lobbyists are to blame. The fact that they do all of this in the name of religion is appalling. They do not speak for all Christians, and the do not speak for all Indiana Christians. The people who are arguing that “Christian” business owners shouldn’t have to provide a service that goes against their beliefs (eg. anything that might be seen as promoting or agreeing with the LGBT identification) — well, those practices go against the teachings of Jesus. I agree that yes, we should have some checks and balances in the government to make sure they cannot force someone to go against their religious beliefs — but not at the costs of other people’s liberties.

As another blogger wrote so well, this is not my Indiana. I may have distanced myself from my home state after college, and yes, I do consider Chicago home — but Indiana is also home. My family’s been here for a long time — before the territory became a state. And no matter where I go, this Hoosier heritage will always go with me. While all of this is stewing in Indiana, the ramifications can be, and will be felt all across our nation.

hoosier hospitality

To Governor Pence: I encourage you to rethink this bill. I hear you’re going to “clarify” it, but still refuse to offer legislative protections to the LGBT community. If you are as opposed and offended by the idea of discrimination as you claim to be — then do something; protect them.

To the business and conventions backing away from Indiana: I realize a strong message must be sent to Governor Pence, but at the same time please don’t do this rashly. Remember also the individual people this affects.

To the celebrities calling for boycotts of Indiana, and for those outside of Indiana: Speak out against this legislation, yes, but please do not corroborate the image that all of Indiana as a whole supports or wants this law. We do want and need your support, but despite what’s going on now, this is still our home.

To Indiana businesses: Your community needs you; let us know where you stand. Unfortunately for some business, picking a side won’t feel easy. But for the rest, continue to let us know that this upsets you too, that your place of business is open to us all. Let Pence know that you are against this bill.

To those of us in Indiana: We must stand together to let Pence and his lobbyists know that they have failed in representing us, that as it stands, this bill does more harm than good. We want an equal Indiana. Continue to support our communities and our local businesses. Just because someone doesn’t have a sign saying “Open to All” doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Let’s not be quick to judgment. But at the same time, we need to be a loud, ever squeaky wheel standing united with a clear message that this is not Our Indiana. And for all that is good in this world, VOTE. Our greatest weapon is at the ballot boxes. We must make our voices heard.

*I highly, highly recommend reading that article, which I’ll link again here, if you can’t understand what all the fuss is about.