If I knew where the picture from my sixth grade field trip to Washington, D.C. was, Mike Pence’s name scribbled across the bottom by his busty intern, I’d rip it to shreds because it reminds me of that time in middle school where everyone thought I was a lesbian and didn’t talk to me for two months. Because, you know, being lesbian is gross.
I grew up in Indiana, where seeing a gay person was as likely as seeing a unicorn. If we did see one, we just averted our eyes and prayed to God, “It’s not real, it’s not real” until the herd passed. Of course, I’m talking about the unicorns. I firmly believed gay people were mythical creatures until I came to Vermont, and still, I’ve never been ashamed of where I come from.
Mike Pence had to pass his Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and if you don’t know what it is, don’t worry, neither does Mike Pence. One theory is that it gives business owners the right to refuse service to anyone – namely LGBTQ people – whose beliefs or lifestyles don’t jive with their own. That means a gay couple can walk into a bakery and order a cupcake, and the head-baker could be like, “Get lost, I don’t like gay people,” and it would hold up in court.
It also means that someone who’s not gay could walk into the same bakery with a friend of the same gender, and the head-baker would be like, “Don’t you get it? NO CUPCAKES FOR THE GAYS,” and again, it would hold up in court. Because, you know, you can look at people and just know if they’re gay or trans. The religious conservatives in Indiana have magical powers that they’re not sharing.
Ultimately, no one – LGBTQ or otherwise – should be publicly shamed for who they are. It’s the business owners’ loss, really, because everyone they turn away is going to march their asses across the street and buy cupcakes from the cool guy who wears a GAYZ 4EVA button over his pocket protector. The cupcakes will be sweet. The justice, even sweeter.
George Takei, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and indie band Wilco have all taken a public stand against the new bill, Wilco going so far as to cancel their upcoming show in Indianapolis. A women’s conference that was expected to bring $500,000 in economic activity to Indianapolis has canceled. Washington State, Connecticut, and Vermont have banned state-funded travel to Indiana as a big Fuck-You to Mike Pence.
Even Cher came out from under her rock to say that the world is going to hell. Or just Mike Pence.
Nick Offerman, who stars alongside Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation, a show that takes place in fictional Pawnee, Indiana, tweeted about RFRA, signing his sweet message to Mike Pence with a “#Usuck.” If only Indiana in real life was more like the one in Parks and Rec (wait, it is – remember the gay penguins?).
Blame Hobby Lobby, ya’ll. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, after the controversial Hobby Lobby ruling that allowed businesses to refuse contraception to its employees based on religion, said that laws like this, “invite for-profit entities to seek religious-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faith.” Remember the little scenario with the cupcakes? It’s not just a scenario anymore. (Also, we love you, Ruth.)
If Hobby Lobby would have just given us our damn birth control, we might not be in this mess. And still, as gay marriage continues to be legalized, conservative Republicans like Mike Pence are slapping their fists on the table for attention. They didn’t win the gay-marriage fight, so they picked up religious-freedom, a fad even more distasteful than parachute pants. But really, they just don’t want to forgotten about in all this gay-parading. Drama kings.
RFRA also gives business owners the right to refuse service to those of different religions. Jew or Muslim or anything that’s not Christian, forget about it. No cupcakes for you, or you, or you. Anyone else smell a Holy War?
One good thing that has come out of RFRA: The First Church of Cannabis. Bill Levin, reefer extraordinaire and founder doesn’t explicitly support the growing and selling of marijuana, but “if someone is smoking in our church,” Levin said, “God bless them.” Thanks to Mike Pence and his blunt “Religion Rocks” bill, those smoking weed as part of their religion can make a case for it in court if they’re caught, and what can Pence do? Undermine his own law? Probably.
Once the church is actually built, the FCC (no, not that FCC) plans to charge members $4.20 per month in fees, you know, to keep the joint up and running. Mike, this one’s all yours.
The Pope of all people is better at being Mike Pence than Mike Pence. With the non-believers outside the Vatican, what did Pope Francis do? I’ll give you a hint: he didn’t tell them #Usuck. Instead, he bent his holy body down and washed their sinful feet.
The gay and Trans folks, the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and all the sane people in the Godforsaken state of Indiana are waiting, Mike Pence. Wash our fabulous feet.
UPDATE: Gov. Pence has signed an amendment to the original bill, setting us liberals straight (he hopes). Though it’s not clear what’s changed, Pence was spotted in the wild saying:
Hoosiers deserve to know, that even with this legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enhances protections for every church, non-profit religious organization or society, religious school, rabbi, priest, preacher, minister or pastor in the review of government action where their religious liberty is infringed.
Pence also refused to sign protections for LGBTQ folks into the bill, but we knew he wouldn’t because that would require admitting he was wrong, and of course, only gay people can be wrong.
Somehow – I don’t know about you – my feet still feel as muddied as Mike Pence’s conscience. Some people might be pleased with Pence’s latest political dance moves (he is an excellent side-stepper, after all), but not me. My feet are waiting, Pencey-Boy, and you better bring the power-washer.