Unless you are comfortable with bringing all your own food and possibly sleeping in your car, don’t travel to Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence signed into law on Thursday a measure that allows businesses to turn away gay and lesbian (and other) customers in the name of “religious freedom.” Pence defended his action by saying that “this bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it was about discrimination I would have vetoed it…the Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.” Excuse me, who is under attack?
The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act says that the government may not pass a law that “substantially burdens a person’s exercise of religion”. Although eighteen states have similar measures on the books, the only other state to have passed a similar law (as of today, anyway) is Mississippi, and who wants to be Mississippi?
From all I hear, the Bible can be pretty harsh. So we all better think about whether we might be a substantial burden – unmarried couples, unwed mothers, Jews, Muslims, blacks, Methodists…hard to stop that train, isn’t it?
I would have also not recommended keeping my home state of Georgia on your mind, since it was poised to pass the nation’s harshest “religious freedom” law, claiming the right to freely discriminate through “exercise of religion”, defined as any “practice or observance of religion, whether or not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief.” As of yesterday, that bill has been tabled, apparently due to successful last-minute efforts to tack on an amendment adding protections against discrimination, since Georgia has no statewide civil rights statute.
“Thank you” to GA Rep. Roger Bruce (D) who said, “Right now what you are asking us to do is allow state-sponsored discrimination…if this is not what you are doing, then let us put in the bill to make sure there’s no question about that.” (You go.)
“Fuck you” to GA Rep. Tom Weldon (R), who wittily responded to Georgia Equality executive director Jeff Graham’s request for an example of exactly how serving or employing someone from the LGBT community would infringe on someone’s religious liberty with “I’m the one asking the questions.” (Sez you. I’m rubber, you’re glue.)
God don’t like ugly, folks.