Business To Fight Anti-Gay Law In Indiana

Former State Representative Lary Swoboda came to mind this past week concerning Indiana Governor Mike Pence signing a bill into law that will  allow companies to turn away gay and lesbian customers on the grounds of religious freedom.

Swoboda, who I worked with for a decade in the Wisconsin State Assembly, often told the story of his classroom the afternoon President Kennedy was shot and killed in Texas.   As the children all prepared to depart early from school due to the national crisis a girl walked up and asked “Why do people hate?”

The was the question then, and it remains the question now.

I recall Swoboda tried to answer that child by saying that hate is something hard to fight, but we always must try to do that when we can.

Which is exactly what we must do as Americans when it comes to this anti-gay law.  There will be all sorts of legal tactics taken and plenty of reason to fight for the removal of this law in one way or another.    There will be court challenges, to be sure.  There are also political calls made for action.

But if look like the best way to hamstring this bigoted law is to use the economic juice of the state as our tool, as least for the beginning of this fight.  Taking a look at the landscape of miffed and angry business leaders must make for queasy feelings in Pence’s office.

Mark Benioff, CEO of cloud computing company Salesforce is upset.  Max Levchin, CEO of HVF (Hard Valuable Fun) and PayPal founder is not pleased.  The National Collegiate Athletic Association, a non-profit organization that’s scheduled to host the Men’s Final Four basketball championship in Indiana later this month, also expressed concerns.  The National Football League could threaten to move the annual NFL Draft Combine from Indianapolis or not award future Super Bowls to the city over the legislation.  George Takei wrote on Facebook there could be a boycott of Indianapolis’ annual gaming convention, GenCon, over the law.

Pence knew this law was so awful and indefensible that he had to sign it in a private ceremony with no media coverage.  That is certainly a sign that the measure should have just been flushed.  Pence of course is a conservative tool and has not enough mental ability to recognize that fact.

The Indiana law is a quintessential example of reactionary policy in that is a reaction to the increasing recognition coast-to-coast that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people deserve equal protection under the law. The trend encompasses the expanding legalization of same-sex marriage, and in fact just last week  the Senate approved a measure that would extend to same-sex couples the right to spousal Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits no matter what state they live in. The 57-43 vote was bipartisan, with 11 Republican senators joining Democrats in the majority.

Some parts of the country are moving ahead. Indiana and Pence are going in the opposite direction.

Lets unite and fight this battle.  We have fought and won larger ones.

7 thoughts on “Business To Fight Anti-Gay Law In Indiana

  1. tom

    Seems that these types of laws are currently operating in 19 states. They allow religious beliefs to be brought in cases of discrimination, but do not in any mean that any court would accept this defense–nor any jury. If this was an issue, why are we supposed to boycott only Indiana and not the other states? I think that instances of this statute being invoked would be incredibly rare. Almost as rare as a bakery owner refusing to serve a gay couple, I suppose.

    It is also worth noting that this law is particularly aimed at Christians, and it supposes that Christians are uniformly hostile to gays and other minorities. This is certainly another instance of anti-gay bigotry especially when one considers how incredibly rare it is that a Christian objects to anything based on religious grounds. Still, it is always fun to replay the whole gay wedding cake scenario. By the way, how did this work out for the bakery involved?

    In the end, this is more leftist tyranny aimed at intimidating or otherwise harming anyone who stands in the way of their extremist views. Why must one’s sexuality trump every other form of identity?

  2. You could not be more wrong. Gay rights is not an extremist view. You will note from the vote in the Senate last week it quite mainstream.

    As to your larger question….from The Atlantic with link below…..The Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs. e new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” Thed federal law does not contain that language. What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has “free exercise” rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Court’s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees’ statutory right to contraceptive coverage.

    Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. Willock. In that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court …..

  3. tom

    I certainly do not believe that gay rights are an extremist view, but it is extreme to suppose that every other form of identity or self-expression is trumped by one’s sexuality. It is best to proceed with extreme caution when freedoms conflict with each other.

    You note (through the Atlantic): this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” Again, the mere assertion of a “substantial burden” is not the same as a blanket right to deny another the civil rights they are due. The same would be true if you substituted the word “sexuality” for religion in the above passage. But you would likely agree to one, and not the other.

    I do not think that it unreasonable that Hobby Lobby does not have to pay for abortive procedures and drugs. They already provided 46 other contraceptive options for their employees. As for the photography case, I think we would agree that it is surely an outlier, not representative of mainstream Christian values or practices. Furthermore, it was dropped by the court.

    (and owning a business is not a privilege–except to the lazy and unambitious)

    Nevertheless, if one’s sincere religious beliefs are as much a part of one’s identity as one’s sexuality–and I would argue that in many cases they are–then why don’t they deserve the same protections? I realize that there is a potential for discrimination here, but only if we assume that judges and juries and citizens are prone to bigotry. Just as we would not wish to burden straight or gay people to be or do what they deeply do not wish to be or do, so too must we allow religious people to be or do.

    Finally, what future do you imagine a business has that decides they are too bigoted to allow members of the LGBT community to rent a room or sit at the counter? You have noted that America has changed, and businesses which display real bigotry are sure to wither and die on the vine. On the other hand, I think there is more sympathy for someone who does not want to be involved even indirectly in killing. I think that claims of a “substantial burden” will be few and far between–but worth hearing.

  4. If not to be anti-gay, then why, oh, why did this law come along in the way it did. It seems as odd as during the Cold War to drop ‘under God’ into the Pledge of Allegiance. I do not believe things like this just happen.

  5. Skip,

    Thanks for the pic and making it so it can be viewed in comments. I also know it depends on one’s browser as to if it can be viewed. (I can see it.) I have also placed the pic on this blog as a post. That pic says more than a long post ever could in conveying why this law came into being and passed.

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