Monday, March 30, 2015

Indiana, oh, Indiana

Oh, Indiana. Oh, Hoosiers. How could you? Why did you? But, alas, I know why. And it’s the same reason I moved away all those many long years ago. Living in a state that does not support you, does not embrace your very personhood, is soul crushing. For how can you love a place that does not love you back?

Granted, I grew up in perhaps the most liberal outpost in the deep, blood-red political morass that is Indiana. I was sheltered from the worst of it but was always very (very, very, very) cognizant that just up the road from my hometown was a town that everyone knew use to be a headquarters for the Klu Klux Klan. A town where a young black woman was killed while walking on the street in broad daylight and her murder was never solved.

So this news about Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signing a so-called “Religious Freedom” law that really is just a license to keep discriminating is not surprising. Disappointing, disheartening and disgusting – you-fucking-betcha. But, alas, not surprising.

Because when change comes to the most recalcitrant parts of our society, it never comes cleanly. The news last year that Indiana was the next in a domino of states to open up to same-sex marriage filled me with elation. If Indiana could do it, I thought, how could any other state be far behind? But, again, I forgot about all the kicking and screaming that is involved when dragging some folks into the future.

And this is that – the last desperate kicks and screams of a past howling fruitlessly against the future. For even in his thick, wrong and prehistoric headedness, the Mike Pences of the world have to hide their true intentions. It wasn’t all that long ago where a piece of legislation like this would be openly touted as protection against the homosexual scourge (granted, some supporters still gleefully portrayed it as that). They called it the Defense of Marriage Act not too long ago, remember? Because The Gay had to be defended against at all cost. But in signing the damned bill Pence made sure to claim that this extremely bigoted piece of legislation wasn’t bigoted at all. It was about religious freedom, see? Not hatred, see? Freedom, see? So the good news is they can no longer just be honest and say this is a “Freedom to Discriminate” law. They have to pretend.

But, of course, we all see through it. And while similar bills are snaking their way through similarly weasely state legislatures with similarly conservative governors promising to sign them (I see you, Arkansas and Georgia), their time is limited. What we must do in the face of this sort of retrograde governance is fight that much harder. Sure, marriage equality might be decided once and for all this summer, but what about non-discrimination protection for housing, the workplace and parenting/adoption? What about anti-bulling laws? What about all the protections that help make us full, equal members of our society?

Yes, Indiana reminds us what a long, long way we have yet to go. But it also should invigorate us to do better. And so many Indiana residents have done just that, are doing just that and continue to show their outrage. So for all of my fellow Hoosiers still living in state, may the spirit of perhaps our greatest Hoosier Leslie Knope guide and protect you doing this difficult time. Nope, we can’t put up with this bullshit, Indiana.


LLHoosier said...

I'm 49.25 years old, life-long Hoosier and I've never been so ashamed of our state as I am now. But I am also pissed as hell. I've never been super-political. But this? This insanity wrapped in hatred wrapped in S.B. 101? This moved me to drive from Bloomington to Indianapolis on Saturday to attend the anti-RFRA rally at the Statehouse, and I've never rallied for or against anything before. This law shall NOT stand. I encourage EVERYONE to Boycott Indiana--$$ are the only thing besides homophobia that moves Herr Pence and his ilk to action. And the $ win even over their hatred--if you saw Herr Pence on ABC Sunday, you know he is (as much as he will publicly) already backpedaling. He is an ass who also needs to go but that is a problem for another day. First this law needs to go.

Anonymous said...

I am so outraged when I hear of news like this. It makes me realize all over again how far we've come, but also what a long long road we have ahead of us. D.S. I love reading your eloquent and thought provoking words, so thank you for all that you do.

Anonymous said...

While wholly disheartening and disgusting. The thing that makes me hopeful is the loud rejection of this bill by so many leaders of business and state across the country. The Connecticut Gov. banned paid state travel to Indiana. This and large corporations refusing to do business with Indiana is a light. There ARE people who get it. Those people will win in the end. I have faith.

Michelle said...

As one of the thousands and thousands of people in Indiana who oppose the governor and this bill, I need to pipe in here.

We sent letters. We sent emails. We called Pence's office so much in the days preceding his signature on the bill, that he began sending all calls to voicemail. Indiana spoke. Indiana was ignored. Now, we gather at the capital.

Boycott Indiana? Absolutely. But remember who this bill hurts--the people who still (are stupid? poor? uncool enough to move?) live here.

Twitter users can follow @open4serv to see businesses that are open to all, and some of which are LGBT owned and operated. Many also sport the Open for Service logo in their windows.

Please remember those of us who are still fighting.

Carmen SanDiego said...

I've been waiting to see what you had to say about this...
Beautifully put.
We still have a long way to go but we will get there

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Shazzer said...

How have I been reading Dorothy Surrenders off and on for so many years and NOT known you were a lapsed-Hoosier? I was born in NE Ohio but grew up in Lafayette, went to college at BSU in Muncie, and worked for a number of years at Purdue. But since 2002, I've lived in Sweden, which granted me residency based on my relationship with a Swede who just happened to be the same gender as me. I miss my family, but I don't miss Indiana.