Our country sits on the crossroads in history. For the last 100 years or so, we have what many people believe to be a model for democracy. Yes, we have had our problems with race before like slavery and the Jim Crow laws. But, beginning in the 20th century, we have basically been a country that passed laws that protected the rights of individuals.
All of that is changing in front of our eyes, and we don’t seem to give a shit! The Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion was legal. Since then we have seen a strong opposition to that ruling. In the last several years, several conservative states have passed laws taking that right away from women. They have even passed legislation in several of these states that require doctors to tell women who want an abortion false information. The object isn’t to protect the woman’s health, it is to make them change their mind about getting an abortion.
We have seen a so-called “church,” whose name I refuse to even mention, protest at military funerals. They claim that the soldiers were killed as “god’s punishment” for America’s acceptance of gay rights. When the families object to their being there, nothing is done to keep them away.
There are voter suppression laws being passed in several states. They are not-so-thinly veiled attempts to reduce the number of people who usually vote Democratic from gaining access to the polls. In the last election just last year, several thousand people were denied their right to vote. In some cases, it resulted in swaying the outcome of close elections.
Now, Indiana has taken the lead in authorizing legalized discrimination. Governor Mike Pence signed the legislation yesterday. It is called The Religious Objections Law. Under this law, if you own a business and you don’t like someone, you can refuse service to that individual as long as you can say you have religious beliefs that says you don’t have to serve them.
The Governor says it is not a discrimination law. He says “this law is not about discrimination.” If it isn’t about discrimination, what is it about? This law has come to fruition because the courts have ruled that same-sex marriage ban that was passed by Indiana is unconstitutional. In order to fight against same-sex marriage, Indiana came up with this discrimination law to satisfy the far right-wing and the Christian Cult.
This is the reality in Indiana right now. If you own any business, you can discriminate against anyone you want. Pence may disagree with that statement, but it is true. What if I owned a business in Indiana. I decided that I don’t like Evangelical Christians. I can deny business to any Evangelical Christian if I simply say it is against my religion to serve them because I consider them heretics. This law gives me that right.
The laws about discrimination are very clear. If you own a business, you are not allowed to discriminate against anyone. Once you open your doors to the public, you are required to serve the whole public. That is a very simple fact of doing business. If you own a catering service and say you will cater all events except gay events, you are breaking the law. This Indiana Law allows you to disobey anti-discrimination laws already upheld by the Supreme Court.
There is only one thing to do. Businesses must boycott Indiana. As a matter of fact, Salesforce.com co-founder and CEO Mark Benioff announced on twitter, shortly after Pence signed the bill, that he was cancelling programs that require his customers or employees to “travel to Indiana to face discrimination.”
The odd part is that Salesforce.com bought Indianapolis based marketing software company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion and kept several hundred employees in Indianapolis. I hope he has the good sense to remove those jobs from Indiana so his employees don’t have to “face discrimination.”
Also, the timing is perfect for a national outcry. Next week is the Final Four for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The Final Four is being held in Indianapolis. For once, I would love to hear the NCAA do the right thing and announce on national television that this will be the last Final Four, or any round of the tournament held anywhere in the state of Indiana. I am not holding my breath on that one, but it would be really nice if they did.
NCAA President Mark Emmert did say in a statement: “We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Final Four are not impacted negatively by this bill.” The law, by the way, doesn’t take effect until June.
He went on to say “Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it affects future events and our workforce.” Sounds promising. But, the NCAA isn’t known for always doing what is right.
Let’s look at just one example of a situation. It is football season. A team is due to meet Indiana University at Indiana. One or more of their players have announced that they are gay. What happens if the hotel the team is supposed to stay at refuses to allow the gay players to spend the night based on “religious grounds?”
Before you snicker, this is a very real possibility. But, what if that hotel doesn’t say they won’t allow the gay players to spend the night until the team arrives? That team will either have to find alternative quarters for the whole team, or follow the old Jim Crow laws and just find alternative quarters for the gay player(s). What about pro-athletes? There are a handful of openly gay players in professional sports? Will they be denied a room when their team meets a team in Indiana?
Nothing will have a bigger impact on Indiana and this stupid law than the NCAA announcing immediately that they will hold no tournaments in the state due to this law. Maybe that will make Indiana repeal this discriminatory law.
The only way to fight this kind of discrimination is through economic power. If a state wants to legally discriminate against a segment of our citizenry, they should not be granted anything that would bring money into its economy.
Major sporting events like the NCAA tournaments, the Super Bowl, and others should not take place anywhere inside Indiana. Wouldn’t it be great if the Indianapolis 500 was held without anyone attending? Major corporations should sever their ties to Indiana. Convention organizers should avoid Indiana like the plague.
At least two groups have announced that they were going to reconsider plans to events in Indianapolis because of this law. These groups are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Gamer’s Convention. I hope both go elsewhere.
But, that is not enough. Every person who lives in Indiana and opposes this law should boycott any business that is willing to discriminate against someone based on “religious grounds.” Any business that openly discriminates against anyone does not deserve to remain open for business. Boycott them and shut them down!
I have family in Chicago. When I travel home to visit, I must pass through Indiana. I promise you that I will make sure I have enough gas to get through the state and I won’t stop to eat. I refuse to give any of my money to their economy. I hope all travelers who need to pass through Indiana do the same thing.
If these things happen, the economic impact will be severe. Not only to businesses who openly discriminate using this law as cover, but to the tax rolls in Indiana as well.
Since several other states are already looking to Indiana as the model to follow with similar laws, it is time to fight back. By showing the economic implications of such legalized discrimination, maybe those other states will think twice before following suit.
To show just how much this law is legalized discrimination, Pence was asked if he would follow Illinois’ lead and add sexual-orientation to the state’s civil rights law. He responded “That is not on my agenda. I will not be pursuing that.” Therefore, no one can argue that this law is anything but legalized discrimination sponsored by the state of Indiana.