Harold Hill would claim a different hometown
Posted April 2, 2015on:
Of course I’m referring to “Professor” Harold Hill from the musical The Music Man, and his supposed hometown of Gary Indiana and him having graduated from the Gary Conservatory, Gold-Medal Class of ’05, the inside joke being that the town wasn’t founded until 1906! I am not saying ole Harold was gay because we know he was busy chasing down Marian the Librarian! But I don’t think Harold would want to claim citizenship in a state that feels it has to legislate its hatred of “others” by passing a “religious freedom” (referred to Religious Freedom Restoration Act) law.
Folks have said the law that Indiana passed is no different than laws passed by another 19 or so states, and some of those same folks have said it’s just like the bill passed in Congress and signed by President Clinton, but the Indiana law is different.
There are several differences between the Indiana law (I’m just going to type Indy from here on out) and the others that have been passed. Judd Legum over at ThinkProgress says one of the big ones lies in Section 9 of the law.
Under that section, a “person” (which under the law includes not only an individual but also any organization, partnership, LLC, corporation, company, firm, church, religious society, or other entity) whose “exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened” can use the law as “a claim or defense… regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”
Every other Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to disputes between a person or entity and a government. Indiana’s is the only law that explicitly applies to disputes between private citizens. This means it could be used as a cudgel by corporations to justify discrimination against individuals that might otherwise be protected under law. (bolding/italics mine)
Matt Anderson, an Indy trial lawyer said that difference ” opens up ‘the path of least resistance among its species to have a court adjudicate it in a manner that could ultimately be used to discriminate…’.” Pardon my language but that’s some scary shit!
As the piece goes on to say, Arizona has a similar law but when the lege there tried to expand the law to purely private disputes, Jan Brewer the governor had enough sense to veto it. I don’t believe her veto was over any great love of the LGBT community, but rather from the probably earful she was getting from the Arizona business community and its leaders. It would have been a serious hit to Arizona’s tourism industry as well as its ability to attract newer and more forward-thinking companies. The same will now apply to Indy. Also, as Legum says “When the federal law was signed in 1993, it was thought “to be about benign and relatively uncontroversial matters, such as allowing Muslim jail inmates to wear closely trimmed beards, or assuring that churches could feed homeless people in public parks.” .
But that’s not the case now. Writing for The American Constitution Society, Steve Sanders of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law wrote:
Setting aside the problem that some religious business owners will now think they have a green light to discriminate, the real problem with Indiana’s RIFRA has been less about its substance than its politics – specifically, the motivations of some of its most ardent proponents.
… RIFRAs like Indiana’s are being impelled by the politics of anti-gay backlash. Their most ardent supporters come from an increasingly angry, marginalized, and shrill subset of Christian conservative activists. These activists want to stick a symbolic thumb in the eye of judges who struck down anti-gay marriage laws, along with the elected officials, business and cultural leaders, and ordinary citizens who have produced breathtakingly rapid change on the questions of marriage rights and LGBT equality generally. Indeed, one sign of this progress, even in Indiana, has been the mainstreaming of outrage (from the NCAA to Angie’s List) against the very idea of anti-gay discrimination.
Now Indy is one of the states that does not have a law on the books that says you cannot discriminate against LGBT folks, so some will say that businesses and individuals were already free to discriminate against LGBT people if they wished to. And this law gives them even more of a legal defense to fall back upon.
And speaking of those economic issues that might arise from this bill’s passage…well here’s a partial list of companies and groups who have gone on the record about how unhappy they are with this and who knows how many may have communicated privately to the Governor, members of the legislature and of the Indiana business community.
Entities that have said they will do this
- Connecticut: Governor Dannel Malloy has indicated he will sign an executive order limiting state-funded travel to Indiana as a result of the bill.
- Seattle: Mayor Ed Murray, who is gay, has slammed the bill as discriminatory and is banning all city-funded travel to the state.
- Washington: Following Mayor Murray’s lead, Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday banned state-funded travel to Indiana in protest of the RFRA. “We in Washington stand for equality,” Inslee said in a statement. “I applaud those companies and organizations that have spoken out against the law and said they would not locate or expand operations in Indiana. I want to invite all those organizations, and anyone interested in a state that promotes equality and opportunity, to come visit Washington. We are open for business, and open to all people.”
- San Francisco: Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement, “Effective immediately, I am directing City Departments under my authority to bar any publicly funded City employee travel to the State of Indiana that is not absolutely essential to public health and safety. San Francisco taxpayers will not subsidize legally sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by the State of Indiana.”
- Disciples of Christ: The Indianapolis-based church has threatened to move its annual convention out of the the state in protest of the legislation. “As a Christian church, we are particularly sensitive to the values of the One we follow,” said Disciple of Christ President Sharon Watkins, “one who sat at table with people from all walks of life, and loved them all.”
- Salesforce: The San Francisco-based cloud technology services company has cancelled all employee travel to the state.
- AFSCME: Calling the law “un-American,” the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has decided to relocate its 2015 National Women’s Conference out of Indianapolis.
- Angie’s List: The crowdsourced local-business-recommendation company announced the cancellation of a $40 million headquarters expansion in Indianapolis after the bill was passed into law.
- Yelp: In a blog post, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote, “I hope that in the future the legislatures in the nineteen states that have these laws on the books will reconsider their actions. In the mean time, Yelp will make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination on the books.”
- Charles Barkley: The NBA Hall of Famer issued a statement urging the NCAA to move the Final Four out of Indiana.
And while not boycotting the state (they already have a BIG presence there) , in a statement to ThinkProgress, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, which has a major presence in the state, said the law was “bad for business.”
And finally, don’t forget the really big boy in the room here, the NCAA. They have their headquarters in Indiana and the Final Four of Men’s Basketball will be played there this coming week. In a NY Times article, NCAA President Mark Emmert said:
“We have to be able to conduct our affairs and our tournaments in an environment that reflects the values of inclusiveness and diversity,” N.C.A.A. President Mark Emmert told The New York Times on Monday afternoon. “Inclusion and diversity are real touchstone values in higher education.”
And when Emmert was asked about possibly moving the headquarters elsewhere he said:
“I don’t want to overstate that fact, but we certainly want to make sure that we have a place where we can create the work environment and the tournament experiences that are a reflection of the values of higher education.”
Emmert said that he had heard from several members who opposed the law and that he had been in touch with the boards of all three divisions. They will discuss the law next month at quarterly meetings, he said.
“Most of the commentary will likely be coordinated through the association and the governing bodies,” he said, adding, “Individual schools can express their views as they see fit — and often do, universities being universities.”
Finally, I’ll leave you with a link to this hilarious Salon article about what happened when Yelp users decided to start “Yelp-bombing” this pizza joint that said yeah, they agreed with the law and if two gay folks came in for pizza they’d sell them a slice but uh, if two gay guys wanted the joint to cater their wedding, uh no, that wouldn’t happen. A couple of bon mots from the piece:
No self-respecting Gay couple is going to serve pizza at their wedding, ever.
You can’t even get kale on a pizza here. Looks like I’ll have to find someone else to cater my wedding. – Barrett L.
They have a great pizza. It’s the intolerance special with toppings of hate, bigotry, stupidity, and old fashioned beliefs. – Jarrett J.
Okay Widdershins, this is a completely open thread. Feel free to add in whatever comments you wish on any subject. And if our dear Beata is around and reads this I hope she’ll make a comment or two.
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