So what is the big deal? Why are everyone's undies in a bunch? Why can't we enjoy a Final Four or a holiday weekend without some dumbass politics getting in the way?
Well, it seems that the law may have some backdoor (yeah, yeah, I get it) discrimination attached to it that is directed primarily at the gay and lesbian community. Specifically as it relates to same sex marriage and whether for-profit businesses can refuse products or services to lifestyles that do not fall in the owner's religious approval category.
First off, these laws are nothing new. Right now, there are 20 other states that have Religious Freedom Laws. A few of those states include Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois. There is even a federal statute which was signed by Bill Clinton back in 1993. All these laws have provisions and protections for sexual orientation, race, religion and gender.
Quick aside: Please stop with the "Bill Clinton signed the federal one and Barack Obama voted for the one in Illinois" argument. Both laws have protections for sexual orientation meaning that you cannot deny service to same sex couples based on their civil rights.
The new Indiana law somehow forgot adding sexual orientation to the protected class causing this mess and raising the specter of discrimination. The old addition by omission trick, huh Indiana. You are a regular David Blaine. Or the Same Sex Marriage Discrimination version of Bullwinkle. And Arkansas is just like Karen Smith from "Mean Girls." A bit of an airhead who follows along with everything the The Plastics do, because.
Indiana Governor and Ted Knight Doppelganger/Stereotypical Looking Country Club Member Mike Pence who signed the bill into law has recently stated, "tolerance is a two way street." But the way this law is worded, I would argue with the Governor that it is a multi-level freeway with all types of on and off ramps, tolls and an HOV lane for good measure.
Based on the law, a business owner opposed to (read:uncomfortable with) same sex marriage or couples can refuse said couples products or services, claim religious freedom and receive protection (read:hide) under this law. Of course they don't say that directly, but with the lack of a provision covering discrimination against sexual orientation that is pretty much what it is. Now, there are some legal analysts that say there could be even more insanity around the curve for this law because of its ambiguities. Some of which I thought about yesterday in the shower.
Can I or someone else create our own religion? What does it take to be recognized as a religion? Can I build said religion on things that I personally find bothersome and then use said things to discriminate?
PLEASE NOTE! THIS IS A COMEDIC ATTEMPT AT SHOWING WHAT THIS LAW COULD BE...
I could make up the "Look Like You Have Some Sense" religion in which one of our commandments are that "Cargo Shorts are an abomination" or "people with straight hair are out of fashion" or "thou are not to wear Crocs."
Now, let's say I open a store and refuse to sell to men wearing cargo shorts, have straight hair or wear Crocs based on my "religious convictions." This is really just de-facto discrimination. And while it is not a 100% catch all for white men, I can weed out a significant part of the group based on fashion typical of this group. (Saggy pants laws ring a bell anyone?) Under this law, I would not have to serve white men in cargo shorts, with straight hair or with Crocs based on my religion which would satiate my prejudice towards white men and my defacto discrimination would be legal.
AGAIN! THIS IS A FICTIONAL SCENARIO TO PROVE A POINT AND NOT THE WRITERS TRUE FEELINGS! (I know someone will read this and shoot me a note that I am a racist because I don't like white men which is not true. I do however hate Cargo Shorts and extreme sagging so what does that say about me? I think is says I have some fashion sense...)
PLEASE NOTE! THIS CARGO SHORTS THING IS AN ACTUAL ISSUE IN THE WHITE COMMUNITY... DUDES LOVE CARGO SHORTS TOO MUCH!
BTW, am I right ladies? White Dudes LOVE cargo shorts. If there were a stigma against cargo shorts like there is against sagging pants white dudes would lose it. It would be top of the White Dude Meeting agenda. It would be a Fox News, "ASSAULT ON COMFORT AND STORAGE ROOM" (Expolsion, Explosion, Gun, Gun, Gun, US Flag in the background graphics). O'Reilly would make it his mission in life to restore the dignity of the Cargo Short. The GOP would put it on their platform. NOT wearing cargo pants would be Un-American. Seriously, I have heard about couples going into therapy because wife tells hubby he needs to throw away his cargo shorts. White dudes cannot live without them. Gap and Old Navy would close if they stopped making cargo shorts. Occupy The Gap/Old Navy Movements would pop up around the country.
This may sound far fetched, but Section 5 of the law alone, which differs from all the laws around the country, provides protections to religious practices "whether or not compelled by or central to, a system of religious belief." This pretty much says that fringe practices or inferences in a belief system are protected. So, for instance, in many religions divorce is considered wrong. Because divorce is so prevalent around the world, religion tends to yada, yada it, but a devout landlord can discriminate against you, tell you why you didn't get the apartment and use this law as cover so if you sue him, he claims this law and wah-lah, he's good.
The law also says that for the government to get involved there must be, "compelling governmental interest," which is completely vague but great for this guy who is punching kids in the chest that "aren't taking the Lord serious." This pastor who seems to be not only a level headed man of God, but also an Open Chest aficionado could claim religious freedom and not get charged with "crumpling" a "Smart Alec" unless the government (of Indiana) has an interest in stopping him. I can't see why they would want to stop this. I remember playing open chest for the Lord in middle school and wishing we had a law that respected my beliefs as a member of Church of Open Chest A.M.E. Our principal thought I was crazy, but I told Ms. Murdoch, one day there will be a state that will respect my beliefs and my God given right to punch my friends who have their arms at their side in the chest so I can "lead them to the Lord." It took nearly 30 years for someone to realize our mission, but today we have found the promised land! INDIANA!
Of course there will be others who see this opportunity and want to be a part of it like The Creativity Movement. A God fearing religion that wishes "to unite white people through a common, racist cultural and political organization" could find a new home in Indiana. They are based in Illinois which is right up the road and Indiana would be so fitting; almost a homecoming of sorts because in the 1920's the Indiana KKK was "the most powerful in the nation."
A near perfect fit would be the Church of Euthanasia which not only want you to kill yourself, abort all fetuses and eat the deceased because of their fear of overpopulation, but they are also anti-LGBT which for Indiana's Religious Freedom Law is a plus. I must admit this is kind of a dick move since their fourth pillar is that they are anti-procreation but whatever, right? As William Wallace shouted, FREEDOM! They seem completely disillusioned, looney and hypocritical so I am sure they would be welcomed by Indiana's elected state officials.
Of course you always have ISIS and Boko Haram. I am sure they are all about it. The living in America part may be hard, but they will adjust, especially with laws like this that they may be able to go to the courts and expand... Why not? They could start small, marginalize the LGBT community then after expand. Sounds like a plan. Maybe they can take to just punching infidels in the chest first, right?
The thing is that the Indiana legislators (and slimy interest groups) who put this law together knew what they were doing. As did all its supporters. (AND THE FREAKIN' COPY CAT! GET A CLUE STATE LEGISLATURE OF ARKANSAS! Do they not read there... uh, never mind.) This is not a case of some rider being attached and snuck into a bill. No, this law was written as it was specifically to allow for profit businesses the right discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. (And possibly others... including you or your family members.)
Of course there are a ton of people that are upset at this law and see it for what it is, bigotry. And this is in no way an indictment of the people of Indiana or Arkansas. (Well maybe Arkansas for just going along like a lemming.) I am from Texas, the home of Ted Cruz AND Rick Perry. What I fear is there is a nice swath of people that are in support of it and are now using it as a litmus test for GOP presidential candidates. (So much for mature discussions of the issues, huh? We'll be discussing if followers Jedi-ism can deny those they deem Sith products or services...) That there is a group of people in this day and age that support and even find comfort in a law that takes happiness and joy away from people that are just trying to love, be loved and live life is tragic. I am pretty certain that the LGBT community is not trying devalue traditional marriage (whatever the hell that is), they are just trying to enjoy the same freedom to love whoever they want that the people who wrote and signed this bill claim they believe in and are trying to protect.
I think the legislators should take a note from the man many of them claim to be acting in the footsteps of:
Do unto others whatever you would have them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. -Jesus
OK, its official, Indiana (and by extension Arkansas) legislature, you lose. NASCAR, (yes, that NASCAR) is "disappointed" by the passing of this law. It's official, you really stepped in it. I think the only thing worse for you right now is if Kurt Cameron issues a statement, at a Hobby Lobby, eating a Chick fil' A sandwich, next to the old guy from Duck Dynasty in a Dolce and Gabbana shirt.
Double update: 4/1/2015
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson understands political pressure and decides not to sign bill. Apparently his son is the worst thing that a conservative governor in a southern state can be... A LIBERAL! According to this article.! This weekend's Easter dinner, huh? AWK-WARD! But good for him for talking to his dad, and good for dad for listening. I do like a happy ending...