Needless to say, a lot’s been going on in Indiana the past week or so. And a lot’s been going on in our own little neck of the woods. I’d like to tell you just a bit about what I’ve seen, here on the ground in the Hoosier state, where we don’t have the option to boycott Indiana because this is home.
– 10,000 Hooosiers signed a petition asking the legislature not to pass SB 101 and then asking Governor Mike Pence to veto the bill. Neither the legislature nor the governor paid any attention to those voices.
– Thousands of Hoosiers showed up on the steps of the state capitol building in Indianapolis the Saturday after the bill passed to protest SB 101. Similar protests happened in Bloomington.
Let me stop here to say, neither of these things are surprising to me. There is nothing freakish about the people of Indiana. Like the rest of the country, we are generally supportive of LGBT rights. Eighty percent of Hoosiers agree that gay and lesbians have the same civil rights protections as others.
If Indiana is freakish in any way, it may be the degree to which our legislative districts are gerrymandered, and this gerrymandering is, not surprisingly, controlled by Republicans. In addition, Indiana had the lowest voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections. Why did Republicans in the Indiana legislature go against the wishes of the majority of their “constituents”? Because the majority of Hoosiers, either through gerrymandering or not showing up at the polls, didn’t actually elect them. If the majority of Hoosiers are to be held accountable, it’s for allowing democracy to fail in this way in our state.
– Seven major universities and colleges in the state have made statements condemning SB 101, including my own institution, Hanover College. This last statement from Hanover is especially damning, given that we have the unfortunate distinction of being Governor Pence’s alma mater and having given him an honorary degree.
– Writer Erik Deckers quit his job working for the state tourism board in protest over RFRA.
– Locally, Hanover College professors are signing an open letter that even more strongly expresses our outrage at Governor Pence and the Indiana legislature.
– Day after day what I see among my fellow Hoosiers is sadness and shame. Outrage and bewilderment. How did we let this happen? How can we un-do it?
Even with all this good news, it’s been a hard week to live in Indiana, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a Hoosier. I wasn’t born in Indiana. But I’ve lived here a total of almost eighteen years now. Soon, I’ll have lived in Indiana longer than I’ve lived in any other place. I’ll always be from Kentucky, but I don’t believe in hating or despising or condescending or disdaining the place you live. If you’re going to live somewhere, you sure as hell better try to love it, the good with the bad. Then commit to making what’s bad a little bit better.
No place is perfect. If you think it is, well, I don’t know how to say this gently, so I’ll be blunt–you’re full of shit. If you live in New York City, you voted in a mayor whose administration instituted stop-and-frisk, a policy that has been shown to discriminate against black and Latino youth and which some say is probably unconstitutional. In California, you passed Proposition 22 in 2000 which banned same-sex marriage, and then in 2008, Proposition 8, which also banned gay marriage for a short period before being ruled unconstitutional. I sincerely wish Indiana had a monopoly on ignorant, discriminatory legislation, but unfortunately, that is not the case.
SB 101 is a direct response to the legalization of gay marriage in Indiana. Make no mistake about that. It’s sole purpose is to condone discrimination. I hate that it exists. I hate that it happened in the state where I live. I don’t hate Indiana, because that would mean hating all the good people who find this bill deeply offensive. If it’s possible for there to be one good thing that’s come out of all this, it’s seeing all the people who are really done with this kind of idiocy and hopefully, willing to take back this state.
Just since yesterday…
– I saw this Open for Service sticker in the window of Red Bicycle Hall, our premier event/music venue in Madison.
– The IndyStar ran this full-page editorial in Tuesday’s edition calling for Governor Pence and the legislature to enact a law that will make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As my friend Cathy Day pointed out, this is a newspaper that when she was growing up, ran a Bible verse at the top of each edition.