What Indiana's New Law Means for the LGBT Community

We are canceling our May 7 show at the Murat in Indianapolis. The “Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act” feels like...

Posted by Wilco on Monday, March 30, 2015

A few days ago Indiana made headlines for passing an oppressive bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The news has caused controversy all over the nation, and as usual, we break down why. Here’s what you need to know.

The Lowdown:

Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence just signed a bill to go into effect on July 1st called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is about as trashy and oppressive as it sounds. The bill permits businesses to act accordingly to its religious beliefs, meaning that if homosexuality goes against someone’s religion then that person has legal grounds to deny service, even though same sex marriage is legal in the state. In a statement after signing the bill Gov. Pence said, “The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.” In layman’s terms: it’s legal discrimination without government intervention.

The Political Mirrors:

A few days after Indiana broke the internet with news of the bill Arkansas followed suit with a Religious Freedom Restoration Act of its own. However it doesn’t stop there as a political party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party, has been trying to amend a ‘conscience clause’ to equality laws which makes more or less an equally veiled attempt at discrimination, allowing people to refuse service if a person’s sexuality goes against the business’ faith. Although it’s hard to say that the Indiana bill is the cause of influence for these two similar bills the fact that this mentality is spreading is frightful and dangerous.

The Backlash:

Not surprisingly the bill has garnered much resentment from everyone from LGBT rights groups, to celebrities in various mediums, and even politicians. Miley Cyrus uploaded a photo of Gov. Pence on Instagram and mentioned him in the caption, saying, “You’re an asshole. The only place that has more idiots than Instagram is in politics.” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post during which he says the bills unjustly use religion to defend discrimination, and rallies that, “This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.”

Jason Collins, the first openly gay player of the NBA, tweeted to Pence: is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come to the #FinalFour? While Ashton Kutcher focused on religious discrimination against religions, by tweeting: Indiana are you also going to allow Christian establishments to ban Jews from coming in? Or Vice Versa? Religious freedom??? #OUTRAGE. Chicago band Wilco cancelled their scheduled show in Indianapolis and similarly Parks & Recreation’s Nick Offerman will cancel his stop in the same city. Others that have spoken out publicly against the bill are Samantha Ronson, Levi’s, the Gap, and even the states of Connecticut and New York, who have prohibited state funds to be used to travel to Indiana.

While there is still some time until the law goes into effect, the anxiety surrounding it is already strong enough to make the future of it be questioned. This bill and all similar are setting the world back over a century, and it makes use wonder how we are even having this conversation in 2015. However if the support that has garnered in only a few days in opposition to the bill is any hint as to what will happen there is one thing clear: the people will be stronger than the government.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and Associated Press

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