Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Indiana legislation: I wuz wrong

Okay, I was wrong. Indiana has proved that legal advocacy organizations do have to use their precious resources on the fight to preserve the elementary principle of public accommodations law: if you are open to the public, you have to serve everyone equally, whether you like them or not, even if your "religious principles" say they are unclean. This is not really about flowers or cakes, this is about whether owning a business confers a right to practice active discrimination among potential customers.

Writing about Indiana's phony "religious liberty" law, Jonathan Capehart reminds readers that gay people do still need protection from the arbitrary entitlements enforced by business owners.

If you think such discrimination against same-sex couples is theoretical, just take a listen to this outrageous radio interview with an Indiana restaurant owner who said his name was Ryan on the “Kyle & Rachel” show of Indianapolis late last week. “I understand people’s lifestyles and what they want to do, but I don’t want them bringing that into my place of business and make my other people that are there uncomfortable,” said Ryan, who also proclaimed himself to be a Christian. But what kind of Christian would do what he said he did when asked if he ever discriminated against gays?

“I have discriminated,” he said. “I have not really closed early, but I have said something is broken in the kitchen so that I couldn’t serve them.” When the incredulous radio host Rachel Bogle asked whether he was okay with doing such a thing, the owner replied: “I feel okay with it because it’s my place of business. I pay the rent. I built it. It’s all my money and my doing so it’s my place. I can do whatever I want with it. They can have their lifestyle and do their things on their own place or have people that want to be with them in their type of place not my type of place.”

But by the day, we see more and more big national businesses recoiling from the swarm of hornets the Republican legislature and Governor Pence have unleashed on Indiana. They don't want any part of legalized discrimination. They operate in a wider world where all kinds are included; they can't survive in some Hoosiers' bleached Christian hideaway.

And the pressure is working. And as of Tuesday, even Pence is asking his legislature to "clarify" that their new law does not enable discrimination. We'll see how that goes.

Note however, this developing turn away from legalized bigotry came only when the holding actions of legal advocacy groups were joined by hordes of screaming gay folks, our numerous friends, more and more major media, and then by the businesses that have to deal with us. Sometimes it takes a mobilized crowd ...

Good simple explanation of the legal issues here. Terrific history of "religious freedom" legal maneuvering here.

H/t the Weekly Sift for the graphic.


Rain Trueax said...

Except now Arkansas, who gave the country Tom Cotton, is trying to get a similar law passed. This really is not just about gay rights but all rights. Some have said how it could be a black and white couple refused, a woman alone, and on it goes. One person's rights are really about all of us and religious bigotry is such a righteous excuse to be mean. Argh! The boycott of these states, where they care about in economics, is about the only answer. Walmart is going after Arkansas over their bill which the governor there has said he will sign. It is frustrating that it takes $$$s to convince people to do what is the right thing-- which is not allow bigotry in places that serve the public. It is maddening that it keeps coming up!

Rain Trueax said...

And now Arkansas backed off until it mirrors federal law. IF it mirrors federal law, why do they need it?

janinsanfran said...

Hi Rain: they don't "need" it -- but it gives their pols a fig leaf and that's important in such a milieu.

Hattie said...

Yes. It's so much fun to pick on a small minority. However, the blowback in Indiana will probably lead to the law being overturned.

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