Casey Williams | Dallas Voice contributor
Usually I spend my weekends reviewing the next hot car, but this weekend I’ve spent much of it wavering between rage and tears. I spent many years living in Dallas, but currently reside in Indianapolis — and could never have predicted what would happen in my household as last week began. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that passed along party lines in the Indiana legislature and was signed by Governor Pence is pitting my family against longtime friends.
But, a little history. Last year, in anticipation of Indiana’s marriage ban being lifted, the same legislature attempted to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In Indiana, such amendments must be passed in two successive legislatures, and then be approved by the voters. Last year would have been the second pass, but was derailed when the Supreme Court failed to hear Indiana’s objection to lifting the same-sex marriage ban, thus allowing same-sex couples to marry. Soon thereafter, the movement to craft RFRA began.
Make no mistake: This is a consolation prize for conservative Christians and supposedly family-focused anti-gay hate groups. They, along with Catholic nuns (seriously), stood beside Gov. Mike Pence when he signed the law in a closed-door session, while refusing to name who was present. Democrats and several Republicans proposed LGBT protections as part of the new law, calling out Republicans who claim this is simply about protecting religious freedoms and not promoting discrimination. Of course, the additions were voted down.
This is about codified bigotry. This past Sunday, ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Pence was asked multiple times for a direct yes or no answer about whether LGBTs can be denied service because of this law. He deflected and did not answer … because he can’t and they can. He can’t add protections for the LGBT community because he is funded by the groups that refuse to accept them.
I feel very bad for Greg Ballard, Indianapolis’ Republican mayor, who has done an outstanding job of making Indianapolis an accepting and friendly place to live. I voted for him twice and would do it again if he ran. He’s drawn big-name companies, like Angie’s List and Cummins, to the city. Taxes are low, houses are affordable and the standard of living is high. I hate that his hard work, and the city I call home, is threatened over politicians pursuing their own religious caliphate in the heartland.
But that’s not the worst of it. People are taking sides. You start to understand how the civil war started. Friends of mine who I have always felt love me unconditionally are supporting the law, based on what they hear on Fox News and conservative radio. They think, as Pence and his legislators intend, that it’s just about guaranteeing religious freedom. That’s not how it feels. And, if that were the truth, Pence would request LGBT protections and make this go away. But he can’t peeve off his conservative supporters. And won’t.
I was very clear about this on Facebook, when I posted a piece targeting friends and family, making it clear that passive acceptance will no longer be tolerated. It hurts and I cried, but those who enable this behavior by voting for these bigots or verbally and financially support this legislation as bigots-by-proxy, can’t expect my compassion. I will not have these people in my house, near my husband or our adopted daughter. You’re with me or against me; take your pick. I will not be a black man living in my own version of 1950s Alabama. It is time for this nonsense to end. I will not unhear what was said.
As I’m typing this, our birthmother, an 18-year-old angel, sent me a text apologizing for the hateful things being said on her Facebook timeline. My husband and I are big boys; we’ve lived this hate for decades. It angers us, but it’s not unexpected. Screw with the mother of my daughter, and I suddenly feel very protective. People like her do not deserve this. And, I won’t tolerate that kind of ignorance around her — not in 2015.
This law has done what I suspect it was intended to do: Divide people, amp up donations to anti-gay hate groups, and try to shove us back under a rock. This is retribution for same-sex marriages and a gift for conservative Christians. Well, we’re already married, we already adopted and we don’t need your hideous cake.
Now, off for a fun drive with my beautiful gay family!