Indiana Boy

My home state of Indiana has been in the news a lot this last week for some of the worst possible reasons. SB 101 aka the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law last week despite some very vocal opposition. Personally, I think SB 101 is terrible.

Many folks will note that other states have similar laws, and that there is a federal law dating to the Clinton Era. This is not that law. There appear to be a couple of very important distinctions between IN’s SB 101 and for those other laws, and for those distinctions, I’ll point you to this article from The Atlantic.

As a result of the bill, there has been a campaign to call for a boycott of the state, including by George Takei.

I can’t make anyone’s decisions for them. But I disagree with the call for a blanket boycott of the State of Indiana. I’m also particularly upset by people dismissing and insulting the entire state due to the harmful actions of its legislators and officials. There are many in Indiana who oppose SB101, as is seen by GenCon’s letter of opposition, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s executive order reaffirming that businesses operating within the city must abide by its human rights ordnance, and this front-page editorial in the Indianapolis Star.

Rather than a blanket boycott of Indiana, I’d suggest a strategic and vocal boycott of businesses seen to use this law to discriminate against marginalized persons. Instead why not vocally patronize inclusive businesses?

Open For Service

And on top of that, fight to make sexual orientation a protected class for the entire state, and to get SB 101 overturned so a more reasonable protection for religious expression can be crafted and implemented.

Boycotts punish everyone, and tend to disproportionately hurt smaller business of those already marginalized.

Everyone has to do what’s best for them, especially folks who are likely to be at-risk because of this law.

Some have condemned GenCon for failing to make a more extreme move. I’ll remind folks that GenCon has a contract with the city and the convention center until 2020 – pulling out before that would likely be a disastrous cost. Possibly a ‘bankrupt the entire organization and ensure that there will never be another GenCon cost. Now if SB101 is still in place by 2021, I fully support GenCon moving to another state in order to ensure it is the welcoming, inclusive event that it strives to be.

And while I have your attention, other horrible stuff is going down in Indiana, too.

Disengaging isn’t really very likely to achieve positive change. Bringing more scrutiny to these laws, being very vocal in *not* patronizing businesses that choose to discriminate and instead patronizing their competitors who are inclusive? That strikes me as far more effective. The really big businesses are already making their statements. For individuals, the one or two orders placed with an inclusive business instead of a bigoted business can mean a lot. If you’re in a position where you would be patronizing an IN business, perhaps take the extra 1-3 minutes to find an inclusive business. And if you feel like it, the extra 1-3 minutes on top of that to let a bigoted business know that you’ve taken your money elsewhere in the state because of their discrimination.

4 thoughts on “Indiana Boy

  1. Paul (@princejvstin)

    Thanks, Mike. Sorry if I offended, before.

  2. I found a link to your blog on Twitter. Thank you for making the point I’m trying to make to my friends! A lot of us in Indiana oppose discrimination in any form and I agree with you that, rather than a blanket boycott, making a concerted effort to support inclusive businesses in Indiana and being vocal against those who support RFRA is a better way of effecting change in Indiana.

    I hope that’s the case, anyway. As someone who is white, straight, and Christian, I honestly can’t imagine how difficult it is to grow up gay, bisexual, or transgender in Indiana. I only hope that by declaring myself a GLBTQ ally, I can at least make some of my white, straight, Christian friends realize that there is room in the Hoosier state for EVERYONE.

    • Stephanie,

      Thanks for weighing in. It’s good to hear from Hoosiers still in the state to get a sense of what things are like on the ground. *Fingers crossed* the other responses to RFRA end up with a legal framework that can protect marginalized Hoosiers and visitors.

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