Indiana Republicans cut their own economic throats by legalizing discrimination against gays

Roger-Rabbit-icon1The backlash has already started. Organizations from the NCAA to big companies are reassessing their relationships with the State of Indiana. This isn’t about sentimentality or corporations suddenly getting a conscience and caring about human rights. These are hard-headed business decisions. They believe exposing their employees and customers to a toxic social environment is very bad for their businesses. This is going to cost Indiana businesses serious bucks. For example, sports tournaments and business conventions are big business in Indianapolis — among other things, that city is hosting the 2015 NCAA Final Four tournament — and that business is in jeopardy.

The Republican legislators who passed this law, and the Republican governor who signed it, frame the issue in terms of “religious freedom.” But everyone understands that what this law really does is legalize discrimination against gays in places of business. For the person on the getting end of such discrimination, being refused service in a restaurant or other business doesn’t look or feel like religious freedom, it feels like bigotry and being victimized.

Moreover, the potential victims are limited to gays. Image you’re a professional or business person, and you’ve invited an important client or prospective customer to lunch. You’re both married, have kids, are good family men, go to church, have solid reputations in the community. To you, walking into a restaurant together for a routine business lunch is just part of a day’s work. But the owner sees two men together, assumes you’re a couple, and refuses to serve you and orders you to leave his establishment, offering no explanation. What does your client or potential customer think of you now? It makes a terrible impression, is very uncomfortable and awkward for the other person and leaves him wondering what the hell is going on, and there’s a very good chance you’re going to lose that client or customer. No professional or business person wants to risk being put in that position.

What’s more, who wants to raise their kids in a social environment like that? This is what the companies now reacting to this new law are talking about. How can they ask their employees to live in Indiana now? What are Indiana’s chances of getting companies to locate their headquarters operations there, or keep the ones they have, now that the state has passed a law that encourages nasty, narrow-minded, intolerant people to openly inflict their bigotry on anyone they suspect of being gay?

What Indiana’s stupid Republican legislators and governor have done is make Indiana an undesirable place to live, work, and do business. And they’re going to pay for it. So will the countless businesses in that state, large and small, whose businesses will suffer because of their state government’s actions. Even if they see the light and repeal the law, the damage has already been done, and may prove irreversible.

6 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Joseph Larson #

    I disagree, I do not believe it is discrimination to choose not to serve or provide services for those who have beliefs or goals contrary to your own. If you do not need those customers, that IS YOUR CHOISE. No one nor any government entity has the right to make choices for us. This bill should have been named differently, it should have been called the ‘Right To Choose Law.

  2. Joseph Larson #

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I disagree, I do not believe it is discrimination to choose not to serve or provide services for those who have beliefs or goals contrary to your own. If you do not need those customers, that IS YOUR CHOICE. No one nor any government entity has the right to make choices for us. This bill should have been named differently, it should have been called the ‘Right To Choose Law.

  3. theaveeditor #

    I have mixed feelings in this. Someone’s sexual preferences are pretty hard to see. So, unless a vendor knew her customer, how would she know the flowers were for a gay Person? I gues one answer is the message? If the flowers or a cake say Happy Wedding Jill and Jane, then the message is clear and, n some sense the florist is being paid to assist in an affair that may be obnoxious.

    To make this point to my liberal friends, suppose the florist is gay and the customer is a gay hating church? Suppose further that the ceremony the church is planning is an exorcism directed at Jill and Jane? Should the gay florist be required to provide flowers for the exorcism?

    My guess is that this is something that ought NOT to have ever become an issue. I belive the Repugnant Party looks for stuff like this to fan the fires of their base. The equivalent does happen on the left as well.

  4. Roger Rabbit #

    These are difficult issues and illustrate why law is an intellectually challenging profession (and one that also draws on people skills, street smarts, and good judgement). The law approaches this problem with statutes that protect certain “classes” of persons from discrimination. You may choose not to serve black people in your business, but society won’t allow you to discriminate based on race, and the legal system will enforce society’s laws prohibiting racial discrimination if you do. You may feel government doesn’t have a “right” to do this, but it certainly has the power to do so, and if you define “right” as something courts will recognize and enforce, then government also has the “right” to enforce racial discrimination laws against you because these laws have been upheld as constitutional, i.e., these laws do not violate your individual rights. The present debate concerns whether government can and should make LGBT persons a protected “class” under discrimination laws. I don’t think there’s much doubt about the “can” part, although to the extent this would clash with individual religious beliefs, the law still contains some gray areas and unanswered questions that haven’t been fully worked out yet. The “should” part is a political question, i.e., should Congress and/or state legislatures and/or municipalities enact laws and ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, and public accommodation (the latter includes being served by businesses)? This is where your citizen role of being a voter comes in, and most of us will bring to our voting decisions a complex stew of philosophy, ideology, religious beliefs, our personal ethics and individual sense of right and wrong, cultural and social influences, how we “feel” about certain issues, and so on. the current status of things, legally, is that businesses can refuse service for certain reasons but not for other reasons (without being subject to legal consequences). And then there’s the factor of how society will react to your behavior even if it’s legal — there’s no law against being a bigot, but you may find yourself shunned by others if you engage in behavior that’s considered socially unacceptable. Social mores change over time; prior to the 1960s, if you lived in the South, being openly in favor of desegregation and civil rights was culturally unacceptable to many, and belonging to the Ku Klux Klan was socially acceptable. Now, the reverse is true. Social acceptance of gays, and social rejection of anti-gay bigotry (whether motivated by religion or not), is a recent phenomenon in American culture. Some call it the “New Civil Rights Movement.” Embedded in it is a broader notion that discriminating against anyone, for any reason, is a social wrong; and broad public acceptance of the idea that something is a social wrong often is followed by legislative action making it a legal wrong as well. That’s what’s going on now, and we’re witnessing the classic sort of social friction that occurs when old social mores are giving way to new and changing social mores. In the case of gay social acceptance, in my opinion the LGBTs have won that battle, and overt anti-gay discrimination will die out or be suppressed in our society just as race-based discrimination has been forced to give way to racial toleration — although I wouldn’t argue that process is complete or there isn’t more work to do on race relations in America, because racial bigotry clearly still exists in our society.

  5. Joseph Larson #

    I have seen gay pride parades and I have seen video of gays and lesbians committing lurid acts in public places. There has to be a law to protect the other customers and the public in general from being exposed or their children being exposed to this kind of behavior. It is immoral not matter how much society claims to have matured. The only thing wrong with this law is its name. It should simply have been called the ‘right to chose law’. Large companies, small companies all should have a right to chose their customers for what ever reason they want. I will not serve a drunk or someone who is high on drugs, they do not have the capacity to make good choices for themselves and that holds true for other reasons too. Leave the damn law alone and accept it as the law.

  6. theaveeditor #

    I think you are utterly missing the point. There are laws regulating poor behavior in public. No one is challenging those laws .. whether that is load talking, gay fondling, or using your cell phone where it is banned.

    Even those laws have issues .. malls and airtports, obviously pubic laces, ciam to be able to throw you out for certain kinds of pubic speech. Try walking into your neighborhood mall dressed as Hitler.

    The harder issue is whether a proprietor can decide he does nto want to serve someone he knows is a Nazi?

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