Fool me once… Indiana and discrimination

You know the adage “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…”? Well when it comes to the State of Indiana the fools are those who truly thought the Legislature would protect the rights of all GLBT. Wednesday January 27, 2016 there will be yet more legislation introduced to discriminate against  human rights  in the name of religion. Make no mistake- it is not binary. It is not religious rights vs. GLBT rights. It is the bigotry of certain legislators and organizations that are making their doctrinal views not only law, but some sort of skewed moral compass.

The sad thing is I could simply cut and paste any of my blogs and OP-Eds from the past decade and it would still be relevant.  THAT is how long my home state has been trying, and succeeding in discrimination. Though hundreds of faith leaders, myself included, have visited legislators, written letters, rallied, held prayer vigils, or testified in the General Assembly, it is to no avail as each year this bigotry and fear-mongering returns.

Last year RFRA was passed and then public outcry brought Indiana to the National Stage. Celebrities like George Takei  and Wilco took to social media to Boycott Indiana, GenCon threatened to  pull out of conventions, states banned travel to  our state. Major corporations such as Lilly, Cummins,  NBA and NCAA offered statements, even Disciples of Christ threatened to halt their conventions.

Then came the “fix”, and everyone disappeared.  Conventions returned. Boycott off.  Even some of the larger GLBT organizations claimed victory. Victory?? Seriously?  The “RFRA fix” only applied if you  lived in one of the  Indiana’s eleven municipalities with a Human Rights Ordinance regarding sexual orientation. And the majority of Hoosiers do not live with a HRO.

More importantly and virtually nonexistent in the RFRA discussion  is the discrimination of religious views on other aspects of life aside from sexual orientation. RFRA was passed on two prongs- GLBT human rights AND religious rights concerning the gamut of life.  The  RFRA fix didn’t touch on views of fertility, birth control, termination of pregnancy (for ANY reason- including ectopic pregnancies, rape, endangering the mother), vasectomy, vaccinations, end of life decisions..etc.

So here we are. In 2016. And new legislation is introduced. And it’s the same bigotry. The same binary thinking. That one’s religious views is equal to law. And it isn’t.

Respect religious views.  Our constitution doesn’t allow to mandate religious views.

But it’s Indiana. And if you are one of those surprised to see these bills being debated again—where did you go?  Have you not been paying attention?

 

 

 

Note to Gov. Pence- LGBT are also religious

Indiana and Gov. Pence- LGBT are also religious – its’ not mutually exclusive

ICON

Indiana Governor Mike Pence continued his delusional doublespeak during his State of the State address this week.  While there are many examples where he contradicted himself from one sentence to the next, I need to address not only his, but some in the media who insist on repeating “religious rights vs LGBT rights”. It is distressing to see headlines and hear politicians use terminology that separates religion from LGBT.

Stop it. Many good women and men of religion affirm those who are LGBT. Clergy and religious ARE LGBT. This is not new nor recent.  Even in Indiana. For almost two decades clergy and religious leaders have taken out newspaper ads, delivered petitions, sent letters to each legislator outlining their support for religious freedom. The freedom to practice their own denomination’s polity and doctrines to marry, bless, and affirm individuals and couples for who they are.

What Indiana wants to do is place religious rights not ahead of LGBT rights, but ahead of human rights.  Because that is what LGBT rights are. Human rights.

One of the first public acts I did as clergy was to sign my name, alone with over 150 other clergy and religious leaders in Indiana, to a clergy letter-a full page ad that outlined support for LGBT.  This original letter was signed by faith LEADERS throughout Indiana- seminary presidents and professors, Rabbis, Imams, Pastors, Conference Ministers representing over twenty- six faith denominations.  This was in 2001. That today, in 2016   Gov. Pence, politicians, and media perpetuate RFRA and other legislations as a religious vs LGBT right is ludicrous.  To be sure, it is the narrow view of some religions that attempt to dehumanize LGBT. Despite their right to practice these doctrines of faith they cannot trump human rights

Back home in Indiana, clergy and faith leaders have made their religious views affirming LGBT known to Governors and elected officials each year since 1998.  That means Governors, O’Bannon. Kernan. Daniels, and Pence.

Any Indiana Legislator from the past 15 years who states she or he has not heard from religious leaders who support LGBT rights specifically in matters of faith is simply not telling the truth.

As past president of Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination(ICON) I know the work of the many faith leaders who gathered at the statehouse, held prayer rallies, met with Legislators, and testified when discriminatory bills came up year after year after year.  At the beginning of each session we delivered letters to every Legislator and asked for meetings.  The work has intensified in recent years as other coalitions have joined in the work of ICON and the grassroots organizations of the 90’s.

Do not insult us and all the people of faith who affirm the dignity and respect the religious freedoms of THESE denominations by perpetuating it is as religion vs LGBT.  Call it what it is – SOME narrow religious views vs Human rights.   Back to Gov. Pence- while he regularly meets with, and addresses certain clergy groups, he has continued to refuse to meet with clergy leaders who affirm LGBT rights to  marry.

In 2004 my denomination, the UCC, began the “Still Speaking Campaign”- never place a period where God has placed a comma. Their four words and a comma campaign is for human rights and affirms the dignity of each person. It is time the Governor and General Assembly of Indiana stop discriminating against people of faith- especially those of us who affirm LGBT.ICON