Civil rights

Boycott Indiana!


The people of the US have spoken, through their words, their actions, and through the actions of business that are panicking at the idea of alienating their customer base: The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act is an unconstitutional, unconscionable violation of human rights and dignity.

Some have claimed that the law goes no farther than the (in my opinion superfluous and useless) Federal RFRA, but that is blatantly untrue. The Atlantic has pointed out that the law differs from the Federal one in some subtle, but key ways, namely in that it makes it much easier for a discriminating business to make their case in court that their discrimination is protected by the 1st Amendment and it gives business the right to free exercise of religion that they have never before had in this context (see this link for more detailsĀ

There is much confusion about the Federal Law as well. The right to refuse exists federally only in so far as it does not contradict or violate existing Civil Rights Laws and Statutes. So no, federally, you cannot refuse to serve someone based on sexual orientation and expect to get away with it in court because that is protected at the federal level and the Supreme Court has ruled that the Federal Religious Freedom Act does not apply to the states. Basic federalism. The point with this bill is that it makes it so that a person cannot sue a business for being discriminated against using civil rights violations as a basis. This goes FAR past the scope of the federal statute. It violates the 14th Amendment protection of equality under the law. A free society is not one that caters to individual beliefs and prejudices, but that which strives for equality before the law and a balance of civil rights with personal liberty. The arguments made for this bill are structurally the same as those made for segregation in the late stages of the Jim Crow south. Telling a person they cannot refuse service to someone based on an immutable part of their humanity is not communism, it is not fascistic, and it is not anti-democratic. It is not even close. It is civil libertarianism, the very antithesis of an anti-democratic philosophy. The right to refuse exists as a term of law, as a defense in a civil judicial proceeding. It is not a blank check to discriminate based on religious whims. Again, the Indiana law is actually ANTI-constitutional in that it bypasses the judicial structures that are put in place for someone discriminated against to sue for damages if they feel that the business owner wrongfully refused service.

It is heartening and inspiring that so many Americans are now standing up and refusing to accept this sort of discrimination against their LGBT friends, family members, and associates. I do not believe this sort of outcry would have happened 10 or 15 years ago, and the fact that this backlash is happening the way it is shows how much progress has been made by LGBT activists, their supporters, and in the culture at large. The expansion and acceptance of LGBT rights in the US is one of the most positive developments this nation has ever seen, especially within my lifetime (I was born in 1987, during the nadir of the Reagan regime). Let’s keep up the pressure, we must not give up the fight. This movement will not a be a success until our LGBT brothers and sisters enjoy ALL the rights straight citizens do. This is non-negotiable in the same way African American Civil Rights were, and movements like #boycotindiana are an important way that everyday citizens can make a difference. Refuse to do business in Indiana until this law is repealed! Send a message to the bigoted Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence. Together we can make this country a more accepting place.


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