Why I'm Pissed about Indiana's Religious "Freedom" Restoration Act

Gary Schafer, 31 March 2015

I'm a born and bred Hoosier. I was born there. I went to elementary school, junior high (what most people now call "middle school"), high school, and undergrad, all in Indiana. I lived all of my formative years in Indiana. Even though I don't live there now, I'm not one of those assholes who say, "I'm so glad I got out, too!" Sanctimonious pricks. I'm proud to have been a Hoosier, proud of my roots.

I'm not proud of the recently-enacted Religious "Freedom" Restoration Act.

I appreciated Stephanie Wang's editorial in the Indianapolis Star. It provided excellent context, saying that a lot of the invective was being "divisive". Being one of those who has spewed a fair amount of invective on this topic, let me explain why this has pissed me off so.

  1. The original bill, Indiana Senate Bill 101, was authored by none other than Indiana Senator Dennis Kruse. Kruse, in case you didn't know, has been pushing bills in Indiana over the past couple of years to teach Christian creationism in Indiana school science classes. Several of these bills were not veiled "intelligent design" classes, either. We're talking (to borrow from The Sensuous Curmudgeon) "ol’ fashioned, down-home, foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’, psalm-singin’, floor-rollin’, rafter-shakin’, old-time creationism". Yeah. That kind. So when I see that he's the author of a bill that many other people are upset about, I'm already going to give those upset people a fair amount of latitude.
  2. When Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the bill, there were two different groups of people shown around him. The first group is the one that most people see. It shows several folks in various religious garb arrayed around him, and it also shows our good friend, Indiana Senator Dennis Kruse, right next to him. (That's Kruse on Pence's left.) Then there's the second picture.. Who is in that picture? Despite the fact that Pence's office refuses to provide any information on them, we know who several of them are. One of them is Micah Clark, head of the "American Family Association of Indiana". The word "family" being in the title of a group is analogous to the words "peoples" or "democratic" in the title of a country. You know, such as "German Democratic Republic" or "Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea". These guys care as much for true, loving families as they do for science. Which is to say, not even a little bit. How do I know this? One of their articles points to an article from The Witherspoon Institute. That article, entitled "Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent", states:
    when it comes to procreation and child-rearing, same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are wholly unequal and should be treated differently for the sake of the children.
    Wait, what?
    Reading the remainder of the article, it painfully tries to point out that, since homosexual unions cannot procreate, then the children will not know their biological parents. Which is bad for the children. Which can then be translated as, "If you're a heterosexual couple but unable to procreate, you're inferior to a couple that can." Nice, guys. Real nice.
    That's the group we're talking about here backing this bill. So, yeah, that also gives me pause.
  3. Pence keeps saying that this law "simply mirrors federal law that President Bill Clinton signed in 1993." Except for two things. One, the Indiana law allows a for-profit business to assert religious expression. (Thanks, Hobby Lobby!) Two, even though there are 19 other states with similar laws at the state level, those same states (perhaps with the exception of Texas) also have state-level laws that prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. Indiana has no such state-level law. Indianapolis has city-wide ordinances against such discrimination, but they do not exist at the state level. So, yeah, Mike, not buying that bullshit, either.

In the end, this law is nothing but a power grab by Christian fundamentalists. They want to create a theocracy in this country, and Indiana is just one more brick in the wall of stupidity they're building. It's high time we knocked down that wall, and told the vermin to crawl back into their holes.

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