LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The times, they aren't changing
Back in elementary school, one of the first lessons taught to you was the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. It’s not complex, or even difficult to understand, but that rule has been lost in recent years as the religious right has fought against all efforts to bring equality to Americans who just want to be treated as any other citizen.
On Thursday, March 26, 2015, in a private ceremony, Gov. Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This bill does not do unto Mike Pence what Mike Pence is trying to do unto the LGBT community. This law could allow for a business owner to deny service to an individual based on religious grounds.
While the law does not explicitly state such possibilities, its vagueness does open the door for such actions due to the fact that sexual orientation is not a protected class under Indiana’s Civil Rights law or at the Federal level.
Many on the right have continued to bring up the fact that President Bill Clinton signed a similar bill while he was in the White House. This bill was also supported by the then-state senator Obama of Illinois. Though on the surface these bills are similar, their outcomes are very different. Unlike its federal cousin, SB 101 not only applies to those who have been burdened, but are likely to be burdened. This means that even if someone (people are defined as individuals, organizations and companies in Indiana) hasn’t been burdened but thinks they could be, they would be able to invoke this law.
Religion is ultimately a choice, and that choice is protected under our First Amendment. Being homosexual isn’t either a choice or a protected class. To allow the choices of others to dictate the lives some were given and the opportunities available to them goes against the very foundation that the United States was built upon.
This state has been greatly damaged over the past couple of days and the two options to heal are to either repeal SB 101 in its entirety or place sexual orientation under protection of Indiana’s Civil Rights law. This bill and the reaction the GOP has taken to the public outcry shows that the fight for equality is far from over. If the bigots in the statehouse think that young people aren’t going to start taking action, they are going to be in for a surprise. We understand our right to vote and will be evoking that right in the mayoral races this year, as well as in 2016 when almost the entire legislature is up for re-election.
Ball State University Democrats