Mike Pence and the majority of Indiana lawmakers stated a very clear message last week with the passing of this supposed "religious freedoms bill." They made it clear that in Indiana, it is now OK to discriminate against someone based on anything that may conflict with your religious convictions. The main group being targeted? The gay community.
Pence took to the political morning shows to defend this law, yet whenever asked if people could refuse service to an LGBT person citing it, he could not answer. He didn't try to defend one side or word it in some clever way, he literally could not give a "yes" or "no" when asked for one directly.
The theatre community has historically been a place where many LGBT people call home, but also a community that does not stand for oppression or discrimination of any kind. We are on the front lines of advocacy, from fighting AIDS when no one else would talk about it, to pushing for marriage equality successfully here in New York state and all over the country. We know the power we have when we band together. We are passionate, we are informed and we have millions of supporters that march alongside us.
The immediate reaction to Pence's new law was for those who support equality to boycott Indiana. And it's a smart one. As a country, when a nation starts to make choices that we find unacceptable, we place economic sanctions on them. We are seeing this play out in Russia as a punishment for Putin's actions and his encroaching on foreign borders. These sanctions are built to put economic pressure on the people of the country, so they will see the true colors of their politicians and that these actions will cost a high price. The hopes are that in turn, the people will call for a change in national law or a recall of their leadership.
And this is exactly what Indiana needs right now.
Broadway National Tours are BIG business... huge in fact. Aside from the actual tickets purchased, local governments stand to gain revenue from theatre rental, parking, hotel stays, restaurants, you name it. On top of that, you have a cast and crew that reside in this state for weeks, if not months at a time, adding to local revenue with everything they purchase.
And it's time to pull the plug on this now.
I understand that there are contracts already drawn and bookings that we need to uphold, but we need to take a stand now and say that from this day on, touring actors will no longer feed their money into a state that openly discriminates LGBT people. It goes against every grain that our community stands for, as we are always on the progressive sides of an issue well before the rest of the world catches up.
This is our chance to add our voice to all the others that are economically fighting this legislation. This is our chance to band together once again and force people to see beyond their bigotry. This is our chance to help the people of Indiana (a majority of whom oppose this law) to take down a government that is longer working for the peoples good, but against their will.
Discrimination has a price, and we will no longer "act" as if it doesn't. Join us.