As someone who was born and raised in Putnam County and whose roots go back generations in the state, I am disheartened by the governor’s decision to sign The Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In a state that does not have a law to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both the public and private sectors, the governor has now signed a law that legalizes anti-gay discrimination. Governor Pence claims the law is meant to protect religious liberties; however, one of the basic tenets of every religion is hospitality to strangers. He touts Hoosier hospitality in the national media, but does he really mean heterosexual hospitality? My grandmother taught me to recognize a wolf in sheep’s clothing when I see one! This is discrimination cloaked under the guise of freedom.
Indiana is a wonderful place in which to grow up and to find opportunity. I know about those opportunities first hand as someone who attended DePauw University as a first generation college student. It is a place where neighbors help each other, where people work hard to make a living, and where urban entrepreneurs and rural farmers reap its bounty. It is a state that competes to attract corporations to call it home. Why would the governor send a message to corporate America that says gays can work in the state, but they may be legally discriminated against when they go to a local place of business? That’s not the Hoosier hospitality I know, and it’s not good business sense either.
I call upon all faith leaders and business leaders to do the right thing. Send a message to the legislature and governor that discrimination of any kind is not a Hoosier value. As a gay, married man living in Brooklyn and planning to visit Indiana in June, I am not looking forward to visiting a place in which I may be denied service for who I am or run the risk of being treated as a second-class citizen. We all need to restore dignity to the state of Indiana by making it a safe and welcoming place for all.
South Putnam High School ‘91
DePauw University ‘95