Last year, we marched together, celebrating the diversity of America, at Pride in San Francisco -- but today we will no longer be able to break bread together in Indiana if a proprietor turns us away under this new law, SB 101. This is unacceptable!
In Governor Pence's sad attempt to deflect international criticism over SB 101, he tried to justify enshrining hate into Indiana law by saying others have done so, including Democrats. If that were true it would not negate the extreme damage to civil society that SB 101 promotes; however, it is simply false! The legislation that Pence keeps bringing up -- RFRA -- was NOT designed to extend a right to discriminate to corporations, to businesses that are for profit, or to private individuals who can simply claim a 'substantial burden' by citing any random religious claim that such individuals pull out to justify willful discrimination.
Pence seeks to justify SB 101 with laws passed before our nation's remarkable Civil rights evolution, a struggle that had taken the life of a beloved uncle, Harvey Milk, and for which a Mom, Leader Nancy Pelosi, has spent her life advancing the moral arc of history towards a more just society.
Pence's SB 101 defense ignores the course of basic human rights and dignity: since the federal RFRA was passed, American society has moved toward equality not against it. In the past five years we have seen the end of military discrimination with DADT repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" policy, the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, President Obama's mandate that requires government contractors prohibit discrimination of LGBT employees and their families, unprecedented instruction to all foreign U.S. offices encouraging collaboration with at-risk minority communities, including LGBT people, and of course the evolution of marriage equality.
Pence cannot keep dodging the question: Why did your legislature pass, and why did you sign, a law that at its core discriminates, divides and devolves Indiana back to a sad chapter in our past, when government-sanctioned oppression and segregation were legal?
The angry reaction to SB 101 has echoed loud and clear from all sectors of society -- from businesses big and small, community organizations, from faith communities, and across the political spectrum -- from all across our nation. People are angry, as we all should be! There is no place in American life for a law like SB 101 that marginalizes LGBT Americans -- and that makes straight people complicit in such marginalization.
SB 101 is based on hate; no matter how Governor Pence tries to sell it, he is teaching discrimination, he is enshrining inequality into Indiana law, and he is justifying segregation under a false flag in which liberty would have no part.
There is still time to reverse course and advance equality. To the courageous LGBTQ organizations and allies fighting for human dignity every day and against SB 101 -- a number of whom can be found here at IndyFeminists' blog -- we extend our solidarity and support.
To the business and political leaders from across America refusing to send employees to do business in a state that allows discrimination against LGBT Americans, we thank you.
And to Governor Pence, we urge you and Indiana legislators to repeal SB 101 and adopt a law prohibiting discrimination in Indiana based on sexual orientation or gender identification in public accommodation, commerce, employment and housing. If you truly believe in the American ideal of liberty and justice for all, don't enshrine inequality in Indiana -- instead repeal SB101.