What the fuck is happening in Indiana? A breakdown
Maybe you were glued to Twitter over the weekend. Maybe you were pinned under a boulder in the middle of the Utah desert, 127 Hours-style, watching a plane inexplicably skywrite the top-trending topics overhead. Either way, you probably would have seen the #BoycottIndiana hashtag at some point over the past couple of days.
So, what’s the situation in the midwestern state right now? What does it have to do with anti-LGBT discrimination? How the fuck is it so insane that, like, nobody is even talking about that whole “Kill the Gays” bill in California? Let’s break it down, Indiana fuckery by Indiana fuckery.
Wait, so is this, like, an explainer?
Yaaaaaaaaaaaas, come at me Vox.
OK, so explain.
Last Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. On paper, this measure aims to protect an individual’s right to free exercise of religion against interference from state or local government.
And that’s bad because…?
As Vox points out, the RFRA could result in government-sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals by employers, landlords, and business owners.
How is this legal?
I mean, there is precedent. In 2014, the Supreme Court decided that employers did not have to follow through with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate if they felt it violated their religious convictions.
Those opposed to Indiana’s new law are concerned that the 2014 ruling could provide legal justification for an Indiana restaurant manager to fire a lesbian server because of her sexuality, or for a devoutly Christian landlord to decide not to rent out an apartment to an interested trans party.
Wait, “Interested Trans Party” would make such a good band name.
Oh, my God. Totally.
But back to this Indiana fuckery. Has there been any backlash?
Yep. The Indianapolis Star reports that state business deals with Angie’s List and Salesforce.com have fallen through since the measure’s passing on Thursday. And the NCAA has voiced concern for the safety of their players and employees at the upcoming men’s college basketball semifinals and championship games held at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4 and 6, respectively.
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the country’s most powerful LGBT rights organizations, has issued a statement, condemning Gov. Pence for allowing what they describe as “dangerous anti-LGBT legislation” to be signed into law.
That’s not even mentioning the thousands-strong rally at the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, or George Takei’s public condemnation of the RFRA. The openly gay actor and civil rights advocate, best known for his role on the original 1960s “Star Trek” TV series, has taken a stance against the measure on his personal blog and penned an op-ed for MSNBC that is literally titled “Boycott Indiana.”
Why am I bringing up Takei? Well, he has 1.6 million followers on Twitter and just under 8.4 million on Facebook. In case you’re not a #hip #teen like me, that means that he is able to frame and influence public opinion via social media like few others. For example, he shared his personal blog post on Facebook, which has now been liked over 26 thousand times, commented on over 2,800 times, and shared nearly 4,700 times. And while #BoycottIndiana predates his MSNBC piece, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that his writing gave the hashtag a significant signal boost.
So, what happens now?
It looks like the Indiana General Assembly will alter the law as a result of the public outcry. Gov. Pence told The Star that, although he supports the law, he had been working with legislative leaders all weekend to “see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”
However, the Governor, who The New York Times reports is considering a run for the presidency in 2016, says that he has no intention of offering legal protections for the LGBT residents of Indiana: “That’s not on my agenda.”
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not currently protected under Indiana state law; if they were, the newly signed religious freedom measure would not pose nearly as major a threat for legally sanctioned anti-LGBT discrimination.
This raises another issue at the heart of the Indiana debacle: even if Gov. Pence were to reverse course and strike the RFRA from state law, his LGBT constituents would remain as vulnerable as ever, from a legal standpoint, to all manner of discrimination, from the office to the mall.
That’s the thing about fuckery — once you’ve gotten to the bottom of it, down another fuckeryhole you go.