Hallelujah! It’s almost summer. We have two more weeks of camp to run and after that we can start thinking about doing all those summertime family things: going to the pool, visiting far flung family, even heading to the beach (Thank you, Crazy Aunt Charlotte).
Of course, Disney World is the pinnacle of childhood summertime experiences. My kids have never been there, but last year, fearing that my eldest would be too scared to ride on a roller coaster if she wasn’t soon introduced, we loaded everyone up and headed two hours down the road to Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. My twins were only 2 years old then, but they still talk about “dat woller coasting place.” Obviously, it was a hit.
Yesterday, I was puttering back to the house with my eldest after a summer-clothes Southern Thrift run. Zoë saw a Holiday World billboard and looked over at me with trepidation. “So, have they fixed it? Are we going to be able to go to Holiday World again?” she asked.
The “they” in question is the Indiana Legislature.
The “it” is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2015.
Poor kid. The first time she heard a radio news story about Governor Mike Pence from Indiana and how he’d signed a law that opened the door for overt discrimination of lesbians and gays, she threw her head back in exasperation and said, “Dang it! What’d they do that for? I really LIKED Holiday World.”
I felt awful for her, but I was deeply proud. No one had said that we wouldn’t be able to go to Holiday World. Honestly, I’d forgotten that Holiday World was even in Indiana, and I certainly hadn’t had time to process the idea that the boycotting of Indiana businesses would put pressure on the state to reconsider their new law. But Zoë got it at once. She was disappointed, but she was resolute.
Now, despite what my step-father might think, I am not a “knee-jerk liberal.” I mean, I am liberal, but I keep my knees pretty well under control. I’m always reluctant to accept any first reports I hear, regardless of their source. Over the next several days, I kept my ear to the ground and ran around the Internet looking for details.
From everything I could find, the initial reports, though perhaps a bit sensationalized, were true. The Indiana legislature, headed by Mike Pence, had indeed signed into law a bill that would protect individuals (and somehow, for-profit businesses were included as individuals) from legal action arising from refusing service to customers, when doing so would offend their religious beliefs. The sticky-wicket here, of course, is that the Indiana legislature had long been pushing anti-equality measures and the only group not protected by anti-discrimation laws whose presence could be reasonably considered to be offensive to “religious beliefs” in Indiana are gays and lesbians.
This take on the situation was immediately confirmed when I learned that lobbyists from the American Family Association and the Indiana Family Institute, who pushed for a ban on Same-sex marriage in Indiana were among the guests invited to the bill’s private signing. Well, that and the fact that anti-discrimation language, though suggested, had been intentionally omitted from the bill. I’m telling you, if you’re willing to invest 30 minutes and dig a little deeper (this means going beyond the reporting done by Fox News and The Daily Show) you can get a pretty clear picture of what is going on.
Of course, not everyone was opposed to the new law. Within a week of the bill being signed into law, Memories Pizza, a family-owned business in Walkerton, IN, became the first business to publicly announce that they would refuse to cater a same-sex wedding as a result of the law. As I sat in my living room, I could hear gay men throughout the country gasp. “Oh, no! Whatever will we do? No PIZZA at our WEDDING? What’s next? Soon they will be telling us we aren’t allowed to wear Reeboks with our elastic waistband shorts!”
Seriously, people. If ever there was a need for consulting in business marketing, it’s here, where a pizzeria is worried about being asked to cater a gay wedding.
I spent a week trying to see the other side of the story. After all, there are some people who read the Bible as the literal word of God and want very deeply to adhere to what they believe are the God honoring practices laid out in it. I do not believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality (here is an EXCELLENT article that explains the whys much better than I can) but I must accept that there are those that do. It is a sticking point for me however, that so many Christians get hung up on the very few verses of the Bible that even mention homosexuality, versus the hundreds that discuss hospitality – which from the Greek – is not just entertaining your friends, but serving strangers, foreigners, and ENEMIES. Still, I asked myself what I would do if I did believe I would be acting against my own beliefs by baking a wedding cake for a gay couple.
And y’all, the answer was ridiculously easy to come up with. I would say, “I’m sorry. I’m not able to do that for you. I have other commitments at that time. The next month? No, that won’t work either. My time is still committed. I’m ridiculously committed, actually. Perhaps XYZ baker could help you out.”
And you know what? I wouldn’t even have points deducted for lying. And you know what else? I wouldn’t have to worry about my mother coming back from the grave to slap me for being rude. Because in a Southern woman’s home, Emily Post’s Etiquette sits up there on the shelf with the Bible, and I’m pretty sure that, “I think you’re going straight to hell, and besides it grosses me out to imagine you kissing,” can be found in the index under R for RUDE.
As far as I know, there are no legal ramifications for being busy. In fact, I can think of a hundred reasons one might give for not doing something they don’t want to do. But then, I have lots of practice. But for some, just getting out of it isn’t enough. Essentially, what these “providers” want to do is not only refuse service, but offer instead a heaping serving of self-righteous proselytizing. In which case, they should run church, not a bakery. And the law makers that side with them should be required to go every Sunday. At 7 o’clock am. Because, well, commitment to ideals, obviously.
So, it looked like Zoë was right; we wouldn’t be traveling to Indiana this summer. And that sucked, because Holiday World was fun and hello, we can’t afford Disney. But, if you’re going to talk the talk you gotta walk the walk. This is why we forgo Chick-Fil-A even though I love their chicken sandwiches (what is it about that bread?) and waffle fries. We know that every time we hand our money through that little drive-through window we are putting it directly into the pockets of organizations that are working hard to support causes of inequality that we believe to be unjust, unloving, and yes, even unchristian.
Of course, it’s much easier to convince a kid that Wendy’s is as good as Chick-Fil-A than it is to convince them that a backyard baby pool is as good as a roller coaster. So we were thrilled when Gov. Pence backed down and agreed to include the anti-discrimination language that was originally introduced in an amended bill.
Today, I got to tell Zoë that we would be going to Holiday World. She was over the moon.
“THANK YOU INDIANA!” she yelled out the van window.
Yes, thank you. And thank you, Zoë, for being the kind of person who’ll hang her whole summer (and her parents’ purse) on her ideals.