Don’t come to Indiana. Don’t visit the Hoosier state, don’t fly in or out of our airport, and don’t attend our sporting events or festivals held throughout the year. Tell your relatives that they’re visiting you for the holidays now instead. Don’t come to Indiana, because, as Governor Mike Pence would have you believe, you’re not welcome here.
Pence, a rumored GOP hopeful for the 2016 presidential election, is preparing to sign Senate Bill 101, better known to some as a “religious freedom bill.” The bill he says, which passed through the House on Monday by a 63-31 vote, “is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact.”
As we’ve seen it play out in the 19 other states that have adopted similar measures, SB 101 would essentially allow business owners and proprietors to refuse their services to citizens that they would deem in violation of their religious beliefs.
With this bill, Pence will take our state one giant 60 year step backwards to a time when discrimination and segregation were not just common but legally protected practices in stores, schools, and government offices. He wants you to know that your discrimination against blacks, latinos, the LBGTQ, etc. will now be legally protected by the state, as long as you do it for “religious reasons.” Don’t want to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage? It’s your right to refuse now, because your god said so. Don’t want to install an AC unit for the new neighbor you suspect is a lesbian? By golly there’s something in the Bible about that! If you want to make a rule at your restaurant prohibiting service at the diner to transgendered individuals, have at it!
“Sorry, NCAA teams here for the Final Four. If someone on your team is a gay, they’ll need to stay down the road at the Motel 6. Them’s the rules.”
Pence’s twitter bio is a never-ending source of hilarity to me, if only for the part that reads, “Serving Hoosiers in all corners of the state.” But his enthusiasm for SB101 shows anything but that. Hoosiers can be some of the most genuine, thoughtful, and loving people you’ll ever meet. Hoosier Hospitality is a real thing, but the passing of SB101 into law will make the state I’ve called home my whole life into a place of Hoosier Hostility to anyone deemed “different” or “living in sin.” It’s another severe misstep by Pence, who has a long history of them in his time as governor, including the establishment of a state-run news agency (which was quickly shut down the same week after mounds of criticism were lobbied at Pence himself), and his embarrassing power grabs at State Superintendent Glenda Ritz that serve only to weaken the office she rightfully was elected to over Pence’s old pal Tony Bennett.
I love this state, and am proud of the person it has helped me become. But SB101 will make sure that the experiences afforded to me growing up here won’t be available to all of Indiana’s citizens.
So please, don’t come to Indiana. Mike Pence doesn’t want you here.