The situation in Indiana is upsetting for a lot of reasons. First among them is the overt discrimination against LGBT individuals the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as currently written, will protect under the law. And a close second is the utter venality displayed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
In the photograph taken of Pence at the bill's private signing ceremony, he is surrounded by various religious figures, and some activists well known to the LGBT community in Indiana. Micah Clark, standing behind and to the left of the governor, has claimed publicly that homosexuality is a "disorder" that can be treated. Curt Smith, directly behind the governor, has equated gayness with bestiality and helped to write the bill the governor was signing. Eric Miller, to the right, was the man behind a flyer claiming falsely that if same-sex marriage was allowed in Indiana, religious figures might be imprisoned for preaching against homosexuality.
Again, this was a closed ceremony, and one has to presume that the governor had knowledge of who would be there. These are people that the governor is close to, who in at least one case helped to write the bill, and in two other cases have taken public stances against LGBT individuals. I take that back -- publicly they might state that they love "the homosexuals" but hate their "sin", a distinction as infuriating as it is dunderheaded.
As a married father of two, who's married to another man, I have a bias. Generally, it's that while I don't expect everyone to accept, endorse or embrace the life I lead, I do expect that those who disapprove will not be able to adversely affect any aspect of my life. Your beliefs -- which in this case I will describe as bigotry -- stop at my civil rights. And my civil rights allow me to have whomever the hell I want bake me a cake.
As someone who's lived life my life entirely in the northeast, New York City, and San Francisco, I go through life looking at stories like the one in Indiana with my face semi-permanently planted in the palm of my hand. It's nearly unbelievable to me that a sizable section of the U.S. population has negative opinions regarding any aspect of my life, from the mundane to the deeply personal. It saddens me. And it saddens me even more when I see politicians in this country blithely hose napalm on the fires of intolerance in the hope that the blaze will heighten their profile, and-in the case of Pence-their chances of attaining high office.
The venality displayed by the governor is as close to genuine evil as my secular humanistic views will allow. Governor Pence, you are trading in misery and in the hope that such misery-of the ignorant souls who would judge my family, and of the families whose persecution will be abetted by this law-will benefit you and your career, personally. And even if you are authentically bigoted, as the chief executive of a state it is your obligation to lead, to provide representation for all of Indiana's citizens, and in the face of potential political gain, have a strong determination not to prostitute yourself to the lowest, most vote-laden, common constituency.
But if you find the siren call of "the base" too compelling to ignore, at least have the personal character to admit that in your view, LGBT people do not deserve equal protection under the law, or access to all public accommodations, or the basic dignity conveyed to any other citizen in the state of Indiana. And please do not, as you did last Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, haggardly rest on meaningless talking points spewed over and over again in the fashion of a junior high-school debater. Own it! Let your freak flag fly. Sing it from the hills that the life I lead is less than yours -- less worthy, less dignified... LESS.
The dictionary defines an abomination as "vile, detestable or shameful." And in that sense Governor Mike Pence, you sir, are an abomination.
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