This Business Serves Everyone

The mis-named “Religious Freedom” bill is gliding through the Indiana General Assembly, where–despite polls showing the movement’s loss of members and power– lawmakers still tremble at the thought of crossing (no pun intended) the Religious Right.

The bill is a transparent effort to dignify discrimination by businesses offended–offended, I tell you–by the very idea of taking money for goods and services from same-sex couples. Of course, by its terms, it will allow establishments to turn away anyone they dislike based upon “sincere religious convictions,” so the potential for mischief is great, but everyone knows that the intended target of the measure are those uppity homosexuals.

Of course, as Erika Smith has pointed out, merchants can already discriminate against gays with impunity, since Indiana’s civil rights law doesn’t protect against discrimination based upon sexual orientation–so an additional “We’ll show you!” bill will basically serve to announce to the rest of the country that Indiana is a state where bigots hold sway.

We may not be able to muster sufficient rational candidates and voters to fill our legislative chambers with grown-ups and nice people, but that doesn’t mean reasonable Hoosiers don’t have recourse. I am delighted to learn of “Open for Service.”

Welcome to Open For Service! We are a grassroots campaign built to honor businesses that will not turn a customer away for any differences. To register your business, it is $10.00 for a sticker and web badge with the proceeds going to SCORE a national non-profit that mentors people who would like to start a business of their own. Join us, hang out and promote an “open minded economy!”

The stickers say “This Business Serves Everyone.”

One of the great virtues of capitalism is that consumers can choose where to spend their dollars. I patronize Costco rather than Walmart because I want to support businesses that treat their employees well and avoid those who don’t. I have the right to never set foot in Hobby Lobby, or buy sandwiches from Chik-fil-A–in short, a market economy offers me the right to make choices based upon any criteria important to me.

So if, as I fear, this piece of nastiness passes into law, I plan to patronize stores with stickers–and to ask hard questions before spending my dollars at stores without them.


  1. I’m anxiously waiting for a business to post “No Christians Served”. Give the new law the acid test.

  2. What’s interesting about this debate is that what you’ve termed “one of the virtues of capitalism”, namely the right of a CONSUMER (even when not reacting to a law such as the one at issue) to pick and choose based on essentially personal whim, whether or not it’s based on a religious belief, a sincerely held non-religious belief, or a non-sincerely held angst that started when the alarm went off way too early this morning. Hence a same sex married couple may decide not to patronize MacDonald’s because one of them once saw someone with a “Kill Fags” parked outside of one.

    On the other hand, does the same same-sex couple with a small pastry shop have the right not to supply a cake with a homophobic slur and a couple of swastikas on top? Does the size of their enterprise and the availability of other bakeries in the same community make a difference?

    Don’t get me wrong….I think the measure that will probably pass the Indiana General Assembly today is ill-advised with many pitfalls, mostly depending on how certain terms (like “compelling interest” and “least restrictive means”) are subject to all kinds of disagreements as to meaning in a particular case. And it’s motivation and timing does seem aimed at one particular group.

    But that doesn’t change the complexity and validity of the underlying debate, in which cafeteria Libertarianism is alive and well.

  3. Sheila, you know better than anyone that the RFRA has never permitted the sort of discrimination you suggest will happen. We have 22 years withe the federal and state RFRAs in place and it hasn’t happened. Further back in 1993, at the very time you lead Indiana’s version of the ACLU, the ACLU actively pushed the RFRA. The only difference between now and then is the left is much more hostile to religion and the ACLU has changed its position accordingly.

  4. I have commented against every post regarding this bigoted, hillbilly, 19th Century, typical Indiana law – I will not use the word “if” because we all know it will be enacted – that I want the requirement these businesses list each and every potential customer they will NOT serve. I’m sure they will be proud of their new found freedom, power and control and would gladly announce to one and all who they refuse to serve. I do not want to spend one penny in any business that will refuse to serve some of my family members and many of my friends. Posting a sign “This Business Serves Everyone” will be somewhat helpful but no guarantee; the bigoted businesses need to be “outed” for all to see.

    As an aside; I am glad to see the closeups of Pence show he has aged; his face is lined and he looks tired trying to keep ahead of all rights he can deny us. It is a dirty job but Republicans believe somebody has to do it…in Indiana, it is Pence.

  5. The religious right should be careful what they ask for. This will make it even easier for followers of other religions to demand preferences and rights. This very well may backfire on them in ways they have not thought of

  6. But I believe that Paul makes a valid observation above…….and I really don’t think the cause of civil literacy gets served very well if we label RFRA, which passed Congress by huge bipartisan majorities, simply a “bigoted, hillbilly, 19th Century, typical Indiana law. We progressives who decry the homophobic statements of Eric Miller in being one of it’s chief proponents do ourselves no great favor when we engage in some of the hyperbolic rhetoric I’ve seen on Facebook and elsewhere. In some cases not all that much different from the right-wing propaganda warning that pastors will be dragged from their pulpits for preaching that homosexuality is a sin should certain non-discrimmination measures be enacted. It might be helpful if someone put together a little discussion of the history behind RFRA, the Supreme Court line of decisions involved, and the like, and understand the competing constitutional principles involved.

  7. Makes me think of the late 1930’s in Germany …

    Men in Brown Uniforms with Nazi insignias and
    shop windows with the word, Juden.

    Does the past really comeback to haunt us ?

  8. it might help the reasoned and calm discourse here if we had a better feeling as to whether there are significant differences between the original federal RFRA and what’s being proposed for Indiana.

  9. Paul and Don: Over at the Volokh Conspiracy (hardly a liberal source) there is an excellent post ( the history/intent of the federal RFRA and its state progeny. (I encourage anyone who finds the discussion here among lawyer-types to review it.) It ends with the following observation: “a finding of substantial burden on sincere religious beliefs simply shifts the burden to the government: The government may still justify the burden by showing that applying the law to the objectors is the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.”

    What the argument is ultimately about is the nature of a compelling government interest. The federal RFRA was in reaction to a ruling that said the government’s anti-drug laws were “generally applicable” and so sufficient to criminalize the ceremonial religious use of peyote. Most of those who supported RFRA (including me) and wanted the Court to return to the use of the compelling interest test, which it abandoned in that case. I didn’t believe–and still don’t believe–that the war on drugs was compelling enough to override religious belief in this sort of situation. I DO believe that the government has a compelling interest in discouraging discrimination based upon identity.

    That said, as the post noted, current Indiana law doesn’t prevent discrimination based upon sexual orientation, so homophobes are free to refuse service, hire, fire, etc. as their “religious” beliefs dictate. That being the case–and recognizing that the targets of this particular measure are LGBT folks–why open a can of worms by passing a law that encourages anyone with a “sincere” belief to discriminate in accordance with that belief? Why encourage the inevitable litigation of instances in order to determine whether the government has a sufficiently “compelling” interest in that particular case?

    This is yet another example of sending an (unfortunate) political message.

  10. Well Don, the significant difference between the federal RFRA and Indiana’s Religious Freedom bill is that it targets one group of people. same-sex couples. Just as the “Hobby Lobby” law targets women who seek birth control and/or the few who need an abortion for any reason. Medicare approves coverage of erectile dysfunction supplies for men but not hearing, vision or dental supplies for men or women. Discrimination is found in all of these instances and they are all based on sex in one form or another. An elected official on the federal level was just forced to resign due to misuse of funds, a few years ago we had “Wienergate” on the federal level resulting in a forced resignation but the Indiana Representative who was sexting is allowed to stay in office. Had Moen been sexting to other men – he would be out on his butt. So money (the real basis for gerrymandering by Republicans) and sex – but only same-sex – are primary issues to submit new bills to be passed into law. Meanwhile our infrastructure continues to crumble (not enough money to fill potholes but soon to be plenty to fund Angie’s List), public safety hasn’t yet curbed the violent crime rate in this city and the pitiful condition in public education suffers while more tax dollars are used for charter schools and vouchers to pay primarily into religious organizations. Sex, money and religion combined to deny rights in this “bigoted, hillbilly, 19th Century” state of Indiana with new laws soon to be on the books supporting those views.

    Priorities in Indiana and Indianapolis government sucks! Wasting our tax dollars to pass a bill to discriminate against one specific group of people is only one instance of misplaced priorities. And the current priorities are sucking tax dollars from those of us who can least afford it. As a reminder; the elderly and disabled (I qualify on both counts) pay all the same taxes as everyone else – except income tax.

  11. Respectfully, JoAnn, that “significant difference” is one of perceived motivation (which I agree is highly suspect if not obvious) and the actual text. And in the proper context (as in laws and amendments prohibiting same sex marriages) motivation against a disfavored minority plays a role in constitutional analysis, it’s difficult to see how at least on its face RFRA discrimminates against any particular group. I suppose that if over time the only use of the law targets one particular segment, it becomes another story…..but with the Wicca folks and maybe some other disfavored religious groups poised to jump into the frey….i suspect it will muddy the waters, and demonstrate some of the more basic (certainly more boring that labels either right or left) issues involved.

    Shiela, I guess your “why are we opening this can of worms”….clearly a political message….observation is food for thought, but then again can’t many laws which on their face might be seen as implementing/advancing/reinforcing bedrock constitutional principles be labeled as “worm can opening”. There are many places in the world where the government has a rigid monopoly on worm can openers, and in general that’s not a good thing.

  12. I won’t pretend to be in a position to argue legal technicalities but from a mere common sense perspective:

    What does sexual preference have to do with free and open markets for stuff?

    Government is required to avoid religious influence, one of the smartest things we’ve ever done based on experience in the Muddle East where they weren’t so smart.

    It makes sense to me that sellers and buyers have equal rights. I see nothing wrong with buyers refusing to patronize bigoted sellers.

    I’m glad that I’m not a lawyer. It gives me a headache.

  13. Chick-fil-A is the best fast food experience out there. Highest quality, cleanest restaurants and happiest employees.

  14. Yes, I like a Chick-fil-A deluxe sandwich also.
    Its a shame they are such assholes …

  15. Red George; you always take dead aim and never miss your target – a bullseye every time. Especially when aiming at bullshit! Keep on keepin’ on

  16. Don asks: “On the other hand, does the same same-sex couple with a small pastry shop have the right not to supply a cake with a homophobic slur and a couple of swastikas on top?”

    Yes, they have the right to not provide that service. No retail establishment can be forced to alter their products (e.g.: decorate a cake) with speech, slogans or images which promote hate speech, violence, harassment, or other forms of intimidation towards a protected class. (age, race, religion, color, national origin, handicap, etc.)

  17. I do not care if Chick-fil-A serves the greatest sandwiches in the world or Hobby Lobby, Walmart or any other retail establishment has wonderful products to offer. The way they treat their employees, respect the rights of their customers and suppliers here and overseas is the basis for my choices in boycotting those business. I wish I had the same knowledge/choices about other types of business that are much more monopolistic in availability. Utilities and cable come to mind.
    If you have a public business, it seems to me that you have an implied contract to serve all of your customers. If you have a magic way to identify those customers who might have demonstrable characteristics that offend your religious sensibilities , please tell us how you will be applying that test so we can avoid you and your biases.
    This legislation is just one more way the Religious bigots can demonstrate their hate and ignorance.

  18. Many years ago as I was planning to move back from Washington, D.C. to get married, I didn’t have a family doctor. I found a doctor in the yellow pages and scheduled an appointment for a reproductive exam to gain a birth control prescription – all of which I told the doctor’s receptionist when scheduling the appointment. After the doctor examined me, only then did he say that he didn’t prescribe contraceptives because it was against his religion. I was really upset and told him I wasn’t expecting HIM to take the birth control pills. So please give me the prescription. He refused. I demanded to know why his receptionist tell me that and refer me to another physician when I told her the reason for the appointment. He insisted that I must not have told her the purpose of my appointment even though he had the precise examining tools ready for use when I walked into the examining room. I wasn’t making much money at the time but of course I had to pay for the appointment anyway.

    Apparently ‘bait and switch’ and taking money under false pretenses WEREN’T against that doctor’s religion. But the experience did scare me.

    What if one of his patients needed birth control pills to protect her from life-threatening pregnancy or other serious medical conditions? What if a patient needed an emergency abortion to save her life? I have no doubt he would have refused her service, and it’s not at all clear that he would have sought another physician for such patients.

    As much as I respect the conversations about business and consumer rights, I don’t want us to lose sight of the fact that denial of essential services based on religion can jeopardize lives.

  19. Oops – I omitted a word. I demanded to know why the doctor’s receptionist DIDN’T inform me of the doctor’s policy of refusing to prescribe contraceptives. But then you probably figured that out.

  20. Chick-fil-A always treats me very well, and they treat their employees well, too.

    I love shopping at Kosher delis (good luck finding one in this town), but I never give them a hard time if they refuse to put Swiss on my pastrami. Actually, only a moron would put Swiss on good pastrami, but if I ever got in that mood, I wouldn’t raise a stink if they said it was tref.

  21. Nancy; I had a similar experience four years ago scheduling appointments with surgeons who specialize in bladder and vaginal wall reconstruction. I ALWAYS tell people I am deaf, do not use sign language and apoligize for asking people to write notes. This is typical of late-in-life deaf people. The appointment was gladly scheduled, the E-mail stated “if you can bring someone to write notes that would be great”. My daughter planned to accompany me but the doctor’s office rescheduled to a date she could not go with me. The doctor refused outright to see me, I noted on the sign-in sheet the reminder I am DEAF; his nurse informed me he said it was too much trouble to write notes. I told her they were aware of that fact I am deaf when the appointment was scheduled, she spoke with him again and he refused a 2nd time to see me. I demanded my $50 co-pay be returned, she spoke with him again and he agreed to begin preliminary tests by technicians. My daughter did accompany me on the return visit; another doctor stated writing notes is too time consuming. He of course had to wait, sitting with his oversize butt on the edge of a table and playing with his pen, while my daughter wrote notes, he explained and spelled medical terms which took more time, then stated tests indicated I did need the surgery and they would be glad to perform it IF I saw another specialist who would decide IF I would have the surgery. When asked, he said the “specialist” (an internist) would order lab tests and a chest ex ray then make the decision. I told him my primary physician referred me because I need the surgery and he could order both tests in my home clinic, he then responded my doctor wasn’t qualified to do this because he doesn’t talk to patients in the hospital. At that point I sought another surgeon; went through the entire procedure again giving my information regarding being deaf, no sign language, please write notes. Their E-mail stated it was not problem and scheduled the appoitment. My daughter-in -law went with me, wrote notes when the Physician’s Assistant asked questions and provided information then sat us in a room to wait for the doctor. She came in and informed my daughter-in-law that if she cannot converse with me verbally , she refused to accept me as a patient. I barged out (as fast as an old disabled woman can barge on a cane) yelling, “I”m not paying one f+^cking cent for this apppointment.

    I contacted the Indiana Medical Licensing Board through the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to file complaints of discrimination against all three doctors. I merely wanted letters of reprimand regarding discrimination against the handicapped in their personel files and provided copies of all E-mails back and forth. I did not want their money nor did I want to force them to perform surgery, coming at me with sharp instruments while I was unconscious. Months later I was denied because the doctors didn’t know I was deaf…THEY said. My proof meant nothing and so far no one has explained any connection between my bladder and my ears that would affect surgery. Medical care is big business now; I have dealt with the same discrimination in my primary physician’s office since. Your problem being denied birth control because of someone else’s religious beliefs now has the federal government behind it in some cases; as far as I know there is no religious belief against deafness or bladders but I’m sure the GOP could find something in their Bible to cover it if they felt the need.

  22. Nancy, if god wants you to have a baby, healthy or otherwise she will allow it. If you die she will greet you with open arms. And those good doctors will pray for your soul.

  23. Paul – the “left” is not hostile to religion. The “left” is hostile to those who USE religion to discriminate against minority groups they don’t approve of. How would you feel if you heard a pastor preaching against the very being of your child or other family members? I wouldn’t be very inclined to want to return. Second, if there is little chance of this type of discrimination occurring, why are people like Eric Miller and Micah Clark pushing so hard for RFRA to pass? All 40 of the Republican State Senators voted in favor of it – they obviously see some need for it or they wouldn’t have voted for it en masse. Has any one of them given a clear and definite reason for wanting it to pass?

  24. Apparently the “Religious Freedom” bill has passed through the Indiana House and Senate; this bill, if enacted, will trample on the religious freedom of those of us who do not agree with discriminating against LBGT residents and who are against this bill…we were not consulted. A bill that allows businesses to discriminate against a specific group of people is a bill AGAINST that group of people the same as laws against criminals on all levels. The racists had (and in some areas still have) Jim Crowe laws; many were actual laws and many others simply accepted as unwritten law. There was (and probably still is accepted) what was referred to as “A Gentleman’s Agreement” which prevented Jews from using many businesses.

    I believe we, who are intelligent Americans – even those of us residing in Indiana – need to coin a phrase or title for these anti-LBGT actions and/or bills to easily identify them for all to know who and what they are dealing with before patronizing a business. “This Business Serves Everyone” should proudly be posted on all public businesses. Those businesses who will refuse service (and how do they intend to identify who to turn away?) should also post their refusal to serve everyone. They should also be required – BY LAW – to become a private business requiring membership to receive their services.

  25. Here’s a thought; the only Biblical quotes I have ever read or heard state, “If a man lies with another man as with a woman, this is an abomination.” Only men are referred to in both Old Testament and New Testament regarding homosexuality – does this mean lesbians are acceptable? Just sayin’

    If the “Religious Freedom” bill is signed into law (and who doubts this?); the businesses intending to avail themselves of this discriminatory action need full information – as does the public.

  26. Thanks to the Indiana legislature and Governor Pence, I rushed to Indianapolis yesterday to fulfill my dream and open my No Sinners Coffee Shop.

    Since homosexuals are sinners, I taped a sign on the outside of the door saying ‘no homosexuals allowed!’ Finally, I thought, I can sit and have coffee without being surrounded by sinners.

    Since Jews and Muslims are sinners, I made two more signs and taped them on the outside of the door.

    Then I realized that according to that Jesus guy, Republicans and Christians and engineers and left-handed people and people who like cats and people who don’t like cats — they are all sinners.

    So I made a bunch of signs and taped them to the outside of the door.

    And then when I tried to get back into my coffee shop I realized the door was locked.

  27. Honest to Goodness, Jeff, Indiana welcomes you…unless you are one of the sinners not on your list but is found on their’s.

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