Indiana values freedom: But not for everyone
Indiana values freedom – but not for everyone
by Guest Blogger Emma Soldaat
When the Supreme Court ruled that Indiana had to recognize same-sex marriages this past October, it was seen by many as a victory in the war against homophobia. But the new Indiana Senate Bill 101, or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is a harsh reminder that although a battle has been won, there are many more to be fought. The bill, which officially lets people and companies use the claim that their religious freedom has been violated as a defense in court, can theoretically be used by businesses to refuse to serve members of the LGBT community. The only thing that’s stopping them is if they happen to be in a community whose ordinances specifically protects human rights, which isn’t the case in most of the state. That’s right – this is another reminder that blatant discrimination is still legal.
The reaction to the bill, both in and out of state, has been strong and negative. The first business to officially announce that it would refuse to cater same-sex weddings was Memories Pizza, located in Walkerton, IN, faced strong backlash. Soon after their announcement, the business was forced to temporarily close after it began to receive threats and fake orders, but you shouldn’t feel too bad for them. The restaurant has already been given $800,000 by supporters of its freedom to take away the freedom of others. Many celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman, and Miley Cyrus who had been planning on going to Indiana are now boycotting the state, and various cities, companies, and organizations are publicly condemning the decision made by Indiana’s government.
For me, the most baffling part of the bill (other than the fact that it passed at all) is just the premise of it. In what world is the religious freedom of a Christian American violated? If this bill really aimed to preserve religious freedom, it would be aimed at religions whose safety is actually threatened, like Islam or Judaism, who need this protection more than ever with the increasing occurrences of Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks. This isn’t the case. The Religious Freedom Act is yet another occurrence of institutionalized bigotry.
Many advocates for LGBT rights tend to focus on same-sex marriage as the be-all, end-all of the movement. Marriage is an important step towards equality that brings many legal and social benefits, but this bill is a reminder that the legalization of same-sex marriage doesn’t mean that homophobia isn’t dead and gone. Gay and bisexual men are still earning 10-32% less than straight men, according to research done by the Williams Institute.
Bisexual women are twice as likely to be abused and three times more likely to be raped than straight women. Transgender people are ten times more likely to be murdered than cis people. Murder is a far cry from being denied service at a family restaurant, but California only recently officially banned the use of trans panic and gay panic defenses in murder trials – defenses which essentially legalized the murder of LGBT people.
Now Indiana has ruled that “religious freedom” is yet another method of propagating institutionalized homophobia and transphobia in court. It’s about time they realized that taking away the freedom of people who simply want to live their lives like everyone else is only protecting their distinctively un-Christian conduct. When did the senate rule “love thy neighbor” no longer applies?
QUEER SENSE promotes change and is authored by Bryce B. Summers, Ph.D. who is a psychologist. Please help change attitudes to acceptance whether it is domestic, or abroad, by contributing to a crowd funding campaign. Help make this book happen!
Queer Sense is a theory that fosters awareness on how culture shapes attitude development through social models, emotional connections to social models, aka attachment, and use of language with one’s models.