Karma’s a Bitch

More accurately, as a friend posted on Facebook, “Karma’s only a bitch if you are.” Either way, the ignominious conclusion of the Christian Right’s spiteful effort to send a message to the LGBT community is what we professors call “a teachable moment.”

Let’s recap: Eric Miller of Advance America, Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana, and Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute were smarting from their losses in the same-sex marriage debate. They wanted a win for their constituencies (to whom, not so incidentally, their constant fundraising efforts are directed), and prevailed upon their ideological allies in the Indiana legislature to introduce a vague and expanded, post Hobby Lobby version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They were confident that Governor Pence, a longtime culture warrior, would sign it.

RFRA was unlikely to have much effect in rural Indiana, where discrimination against LGBT folks was still entirely legal anyway. And although the legislation raised some troubling questions, most lawyers predicted that it would not trump LGBT civil rights in cities where those rights were protected by ordinance.

But the real purpose of the legislation wasn’t legal, it was political.

The bill was intended to send a message: to tell gay folks that despite their marriage victory, they remain unwelcome, and (by “protecting” good Christians against further “victimization” by the nefarious “gay agenda”) to reassure their credulous members they were worth the dollars they’ve been extracting from them.

That message was received and (unlike both RFRA and the First Amendment) understood.I’ve already posted about the immense and damaging blowback it generated.

Yesterday, the Governor and legislative culture warriors capitulated, amending the law to provide that “religious liberty” cannot be used as a defense when a business or other “provider” discriminates on a laundry list of bases–including sexual orientation and gender identity.

This is the first time in Indiana history that LGBT folks have been explicitly protected by state law. It isn’t quite the same as inclusion in the state civil rights law, but it’s close; after all, virtually all discrimination against LGBT folks is justified by citation to religious belief. If that is no longer a sufficient reason, it’s hard to think what is.

And that gets us back to (very satisfying) karma. Eric Miller, Micah Clark and Curt Smith deliberately set out to inflict gratuitous harm on a marginalized minority. Because they thought they could. Because it would be good for fundraising. Because it would salve their wounded egos. Because they have never understood the fundamental decency of most Hoosiers.

Instead–and as a direct result– gay rights in Indiana have advanced substantially. In addition to the new language in the Indiana Code, a broad coalition has formed to work for inclusion of sexual orientation in state civil rights laws. Businesses throughout Indiana are displaying “We Serve Everyone” signs. And the presumed political power of these smarmy culture warriors has been shown to be largely mythical (can we all say “the emperor has no clothes?)

Karma is so gratifying.


  1. Karma is only alive – and struggling to stay alive – in 11 Indiana communities. Indianapolis became 1 of the 11 this week…better late than never for the sports and tourist industries. Duly elected Democrat legislators were not allowed to participate in the fabled “fix”. A bandaid on a major wound to this state; leaving the wound to fester.

  2. Yesterday, I posted to Facebook a comment that reflects Sheila’s. IMO, gerrymandered districts have cemented the polarization of the voters in this state. She is right that the rural areas are not impacted the way that cities are. Discrimination against LGBT folks in those areas is not illegal in Indiana and probably is done routinely by all those good “Christians” who send their like-minded fellows to the legislature.
    Those of us who are straight, of all faiths, who supports the civil right of equal protection for our LGBT fellow citizens would be marginalized in many of Indiana’s more rural areas, just based on our beliefs.
    I challenge all political parties in Indiana to put language in their platforms that extends civil rights protections to our LGBT citizens. It is the right thing to do.

  3. Why was Pence nowhere in sight yesterday and now has gone to Europe where he certainly is not reachable? Why all day long yesterday we saw all caucasian men speakers talking about what is great for Indiana and what they have done and will do. Where were the women and other ethnic groups? A big and fair change for Indiana? I doubt it!

  4. I think this karmic moment parallels remarkably with the SAE Fraternity racist chant. You have an insular group that thinks that they can get away with and say whatever they want, suddenly exposed to an outside world who is horrified at their actions. And then the perpetrators are sent reeling not understanding why they are getting beaten over the head about it.

    The reason the political response of the Pence administration of this was so flat footed was because they seriously didn’t think there was any problem with this bill. Just look at his talking points – he thought he was going along with the crowd. (“Bill Clinton signed it!”) But suddenly he was like a child, caught slinging racial slurs on youtube, and couldn’t fathom why everyone was so angry about it.

    The best karma of the whole troubled two weeks is that Pence’s chance of a 2016 Presidential run are shot, and his political star is tarnished. Perhaps now we can get those $2B in “surplus” back out and start working on actually fixing some real problems in the State.

  5. Unfortunately I expect that there are many adamant supporters of the original bill, the fixed bill and the legislators who created it. To them it doesn’t matter that the economic future of the state has been damaged, the public image is tarnished and institutionalized discrimination is alive and associated with Indiana. I’ll bet next week’s paycheck that they elect the same group next cycle. Progressives will still need a miracle.

  6. “smarting from their losses in the same-sex marriage debate.”

    What? Scoreboard.

    A baker cannot be forced to bake a gay wedding cake in Indiana.

    That’s the law.

  7. By the way, folks, if you get outside your mile square, you’ll find yourself in Indiana.

    Honest to Goodness Indiana, full of Hoosiers who live Hoosier lives and interact with other Hoosiers. In only a very small geographic area does anyone have a problem with this law.

    If you mingle with real Hoosiers with real jobs, and not with people who work in marketing, media or public relations you’ll find very few people who agree with you. In almost all of the state, nobody is going to have a problem with a gay couple not being able to force a baker to make a gay wedding cake.

    I am so thoroughly disappointed that this has been revealed to be the Democrats’ true core issue.

  8. Their disgraceful, hateful and mean spirited actions circled around and came back to bite them hard! I am sure they are rallying the troops to fight this painful karma, but it is too late. We have shown that most of the people in this state despise discrimination and will no longer tolerate it.

    JD, I live in rural northern Indiana and you are correct in your observation about people being marginalized if they are against discrimination. As a straight person I became so disgusted by what was started in the local churches 3 years ago to fight the rights of gay people that I stopped going to church. The churches have chased away good people because they refuse to actually follow the very principles that they claim to believe in.

    It will be a joy to watch all of these bigots squirm as good people in this state work to stop legalized discrimination.

    Of course, there is still the issue of women being second class citizens (especially in rural areas) but changing that seems to be far to big of a dream to even think about.

  9. The fix merely included in the statute what has been the court decision in every case, I.e. that RFRA doesn’t override anti-discrimination laws. That’s what law professors on the conservative and liberal side has said over and over again. I don’t get your claim tbat this advances the cause of anti-discrimination toward sexual orientation. Maybe in some cities. But if you think after this scorched Earth campaign against RFRA in which opponents engaged in personal attack and demagoguery that legislators are going to want to help those who want to advance the cause of LGBT rights I think you’re very much mistaken. This silly campaign against RFRA, which was completely irrelevant to LGBT rights, set the cause back 10 to 15 years.

  10. Unfortunately, Eric Miller and Curt Smith and Micah Clark probably did very well in the fundraising department this week, if judging by the response to the pizzeria is any gauge.

  11. I watched the entire 3 Hr TV Special on Ch8. The Civic Leaders and the Business Leaders all were very eloquent talking about MONEY Issues. We want you to come and spend your money in Indiana.” You are welcome to give us your money. We want your money. ” There was NOTHING about Gay people. No recognition of the hurt and harm they inflict on gay people. It was all BS. The ONLY Reason the blinked was the boycott. They still hate us. They always have and always will. This is still KKK Kountry. ONLY the Boycott scared them. They saw dollar signs flying away and they wet themselves. Sad sick people. Hoosier Values. HA.

  12. Yes, Kilroy. This was just a Skirmish in the grand scheme of things.
    When we relax our guard, another front will open up. It goes to show
    that the rural areas are full of “Ignorant Rustic F**ks”

    Meanwhile, quietly in the background. House committee votes to
    expand the death penalty to include for, shootings in schools or
    during worship services. Plus a clarification, death penalty if a
    body is dismembered after death, but not if the death is caused by
    dismemberment. ??????????

    The mind boggles …

  13. This is a great summary, Sheila. But I think you’re off base giving credit for this to karma. The changes of RFRA weren’t a result of us sitting back and watching what happens, as karma would have us do. Instead, thousands upon thousands of people took action! They wrote and called their senators, they marched and rallied, they put stickers on doors to their businesses, they talked and debated with friends to explained the dangers of it. Karma would have us sitting back and waiting for things to unfold. That’s completely opposite of what actually happened. I don’t know of an antonym for karma, but whatever it is, that’s what really happened here.

  14. If only 11 communities in the state of Indiana offer their pitiful “protection” against discrimination; should we look deeper for hidden discrimination regarding race and religion still being “on the books”. Honest to Goodness, Indiana – you continue to be a source of shame. I don’t remember seeing the parties of big business and civic leaders on election ballots yet they were allowed, along with Republicans (no Democrats allowed), to structure the un”fix” Pence signed then left the country.

  15. I’ve been wondering about the timing. An unconstitutional law, sent to the Supreme Court, will be decided and (probably) invalidated in June 2016. Two months before the GOP Convention, a few more before the general election.

    It’s just the tool to send a frightened right-wing electorate to the polls. Just like in 2004.

  16. The Indiana experience is similar to the karmic consequences in Minnesota, where Republican majorities in the legislature pushed through (in 2011) a referendum on constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. They has been trying for years –a Michelle Bachmann obsession– but were always blocked by the DFL (Democratic Party in Minnesota.) The result was the largest, and most expensive, grass roots campaign in Minnesota history, against the amendment. Not only did the amendment fail in 2012, but the Republicans lost both houses of the legislature and the new DFL majority passed, and Governor Dayton signed, a marriage equality bill in May 2013. So the result of the Republican attempt to insert discrimination in the Minnesota constitution was that full marriage equality came to the state much earlier than it otherwise might have.

  17. Truly proud of Indiana for standing up and owning its rightful place as dominant in the relationship with government, which is authored to be submissive to The People.

    Cultural Activism was flawlessly displayed by Indiana’s citizens and businesses across party lines, faiths, race, gender and sexual orientation.

    Politics eventually always yields to the force of culture which is as powerful as the water that cut the rock of the Grand Canyon.

    Free-Dom isn’t free. There is no freedom without flexing one’s dominance. Indiana’s people showed government and the world who is dom.

  18. Every movement is personified by a slogan. The attempt by Indiana’s “Christians” to impose their culture on Americans was built around a hypothetical bakery. In Facebook yesterday America reacted with, “what if the situation was not a gay wedding but life saving surgery? Should those free of Christian hatred but in love with the same sex be denied that too?”

    I don’t even know the legal possibilities any more than Indiana’s Governor, Legislature, and oligarchs did, but the thought is poignant though.

    Our democracy is based on inclusivity not exclusivity. Screw off oligarchs. Your money does not entitle here.

  19. Your Gov Dense is admonishing Americans for misunderstanding blatant hypocrisy. Closer to the truth is the rejection of that on his part by America.

    We’ve had enough blatant hypocrisy from the Great Oligarchy Plot to have become experts in it.

  20. This whole debacle exposes Indiana Republicans for what they really are. After the same-sex marriage ban failed, they pandered to their base, passing a law they were warned wouldn’t pass muster even with the public, but the part they didn’t see coming was the threat to their money supply. Threaten them economically, all of a sudden their true religion shows. Their radical Christian values go up in smoke, and they back-track, but only to “clarify” the law. The only “problem” was “perception”, fueled by “gross mischaracterization” by the liberal lame-stream press. Another irony of this mess is that this law was supposed to be about the practice of religion. I don’t know of any religion that sanctions out-and-out lying, especially by people in leadership positions. Our Governor consistently lied about the purpose of the bill and effect it would have on the rights of LGBT citizens, and when caught with his shorts down, never admitted it was a mistake or that the “fix” was reversing the true purpose of the bill.

  21. @ Uncertain: Chick-fil-A? Nothing for me, thanks! I don’t do Hobby Lobby or Papa John’s either. So, no wings, paint-by-numbers, or pizza-with-everything for me! We’ve noticed that you don’t give your name…probably for good reason. You’re not even really ‘uncertain’, are you?

    Rational Hoosiers, you did it! But don’t stop! Don’t even slow down! This issue will rear its ugly head again and again. Next time in more subtle disguise, so be wary. They were caught with their drawers down this time, so just be alert.

  22. Apparently it’s one thing to allow businesses to throw away business that comes from those different than the owners of the business but a different thing when business owners in Indiana get told that they have been eliminated by those different than they rejecting doing business in the state of hypocrisy.

    Go figure.

  23. Given the people around the podium for the Legislative Fix – I kept thinking Must be the Money. I guess it takes money or the potential loss of it, to energize the ruling class.

    As Kilroy observed above Eric Miller and Curt Smith and Micah Clark will now be able to double down on the donation appeals.

    I find it a bit amusing to read and hear that the LGBT side engaged in personal attacks and demagoguery. HOT DAMN what do think the Bible Thumpers have been doing for the past two decades. Trying to get Creationism taught in Public Schools or Intelligent Design.
    Jerry Falwell on the 700 Club concerning 9/11 – ” “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen.” Another quote from Falwell – “Labor unions should study and read the Bible instead of asking for more money. When people get right with God, they are better workers.”

    Just within the past few years the Bible Thumpers have fought tooth and nail against same sex marriage. From the Advance America Web Page – The Dangers of Legalizing Homosexual Marriages! If homosexual marriages are legal in Indiana:
    Children, beginning in elementary school, will be taught homosexuality is normal and acceptable! There is more – Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be forced by the government to participate in a homosexual wedding. — I suppose a “Christian Baker” should not be forced to outline a Menorah or picture of Pope Francis on a Cake.

    So what is next?? What else is being hatched??

  24. It’s no longer Democrats vs Republicans. It’s those who favor democracy vs those who favor oligarchy.

    Oligarchs hope to win by empowering ignorance. Democracy requires to prevail an informed electorate.

    Make your stand.

  25. Sheila, towards the end you said, “Instead–and as a direct result– gay rights in Indiana have advanced substantially. In addition to the new language in the Indiana Code, a broad coalition has formed to work for inclusion of sexual orientation in state civil rights laws. ”

    it should say LGBT rights instead of “gay rights”, and it should “sexual orientation and gender identity” instead of “sexual orientation”.

    Us trans folk have gotten ourselves included, finally, but we still worry that we will be left out when the bargaining begins, sacrificed to get the win. Please don’t ever leave us out when talking about the LGBT community’s civil rights.

  26. Nancy, and others who have bailed on churches that fall in line with Miller etc. There is a church that stood up tall, said “we will not stand for this treatment of our brothers and sisters, and will move our assembly, whatever the cost.” Easter morning might be the right time to attend the nearby Disciples congregation. They will welcome you, whatever your politics, because this church sees its mission at the Table, where all were, and are, invited.

  27. Stuart; those Christian churches recognize and follow the true teachings of Jesus Christ, a Jew and a Rabbi. He was denied by his followers just as the RFRA denies Christianity in it’s purest form; “do unto others” and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” This denies protection to LGBTs in most of the state of Indiana even after the week long rantings against the “Religious Freedom” law and the so-called “revision”. In rode Mayor Ballard on his white horse, pretending to be appalled at the law and standing up for gay and lesbian rights. In actuality he was standing with those of “Indiana’s biggest corporate power brokers” who “hammered out” the revisions with only Republicans. Remember, the Democrats were kept out of the negotiations. This was to maintain continued support with our tax dollars for all sports venues, tourism and continue enriching those “biggest corporate power brokers”, et al here in Indianapolis. It was always follow the money disguised as a religious issue and there was no other way for it to end than the way it did – virtually no change except to add Indianapolis/Marion County to the short list of “communities” which already had laws/ordinances prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians. Do they protect LGBTs en masse?

  28. Indiana Governor and Gay Rights activist Mike Pence signed a revised law that allows for “the first time in Indiana history that LGBT folks have been explicitly protected by state law.”

  29. Anoka Tony; you need to see the front page of the Indianapolis Star today. Large headline; “Religious Freedom Restoration Act REVISED” The line below has three smaller headlines, “IN INDIANAPOLIS change to bill protects gay rights/MUCH OF INDIANA Status quo No LGBT protection/WHAT MAY BE NEXT A statewide anti-discrimination bill.”

    Indianapolis is 1 of 11 communities in this entire state where that protection is provided and we in Indianapolis/Marion County only got it this week and that was due to the fear of losing money, not to protect anyone’s rights. LGBT folks in most of this state are still unprotected.

  30. Nearly everything has been covered nicely here, but Uncertain twice mentioned “a gay wedding cake.” I have now lived well into my 60’s, traveled extensively, and attended many weddings–all the more so since I am a pastor. Never despite all this time and experience have I been able to determine the gender of a cake, let alone a gay one. Will someone please tell me how one can determine a cake’s gender simply by looking at it. Or are they amorphous, or transgender? Do bakers use a secret ingredient? If Uncertain was certain, then why do I remain uncertain? Help.

  31. Wray; about that cake, maybe you peek between the layers for a hint. Personally, I have been questioning the statement by the pizza restaurant employee who stated, “If they asked us to make pizzas for a gay wedding, we would refuse.” What is a gay wedding pizza? My gay and lesbian friends and I often share pizzas; most of them prefer pepperoni, I’ll try to remember to ask.

  32. @JoAnn –

    Indianapolis has had a human rights ordinance protecting sexual orientation and gender identity since 2005. What it passed this week was a resolution condemning RFRA.

  33. Thanks go to the Disciples of Christ and the other churches who did not receive public note for their leadership and advocacy. My church (St Luke’s UMC) has had a PFLAG Chapter for years and provides classes and sermons showing that Jesus’ message of love for others means love for ALL creation and ALL God’s children including those different from ourselves.

    Jesus directed us to love our enemies. That’s REALLY difficult, but we can start by at least reaching out to and not discriminating against those who are different.

    Yesterday I saw a ‘Book Notes’ C-Span presentation by Catholic author and religious historian Garry Wills on the future of Catholicism. A questioner asked for Wills’ view on why Pope Francis – unlike other Popes – has such appeal to non-Catholics. Wills’ said it was because Francis so reminds us of Jesus.

    The lesson to be true to our better angels is one for all of organized religion and all people. As we’ve learned the hard way, it’s a good lesson for the State of Indiana as well.

  34. This book is next on my reading list:
    “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America,” by Kevin Kruze.

  35. All this talk about karma, anger, hate, vengeance…. not to mention a lesbian teacher publicly calling to burn the pizzaria down has me shaking my head at the very clear hateful, vindictive, totally intolerant, violent, hypocritical fascist who think religious freedom is somehow “discrimination” – while at the same time, gay bakeries are refusing service to Christians, but not a single peep from those opposed to religious freedom.
    Muslim’s are FAR harsher on gays, yet when muslim bakeries refused service to gays, again, not a single word from the so-called “anti-discrimination” fascists. Doesn’t anybody else find this blatant hypocrisy comical?
    Come on, all the lady did was POLITELY refuse to cater a gay wedding – then she gets bombarded with pure vile hatred & threats of extreme violence. And many of you are celebrating this as a victory? And you talk about the peaceful right being “violent”??? Some of you are deeply disturbed and your hatred will burn you up some day. Really, get over your superior selves & get a life. How about we burn down gay businesses, just because… will that be ok according your logic? Why not???

  36. A baker cannot be forced to bake a gay wedding cake in Indiana.

    No such thing as a “gay wedding cake.” All wedding cakes have no orientation at all.

    All cakes are equal before and under the law.

  37. OK Peter; my bad. I based my believe there was no local ordinance against gay and lesbian discrimination on what I have seen from the general public – and some of my neighbors. Does our local ordinance protect all LGBTs, do any of them in this state? Or are they limited to gays and lesbians?

  38. Ray; I have no idea where Walkerton, IN, is located but, according to the map of the 11 “communities” in the entire state of Indiana with ordinances against such discrimination, she was probably well within her rights in her refusal. She and her family are now near millionaires (maybe reached that level by now), thanks to the generosity of many other bigots. I’m sure the LGBTs have found other sources for pizza and moved on with their lives. I hope they have researched their living and work areas to learn if their rights are protected or not. Eleven “communities” in this state leaves a much larger area where they are not. The posts on Facebook could be misleading; people outside this state could misconstrue “Indy welcomes everyone” to mean the entire state of Indiana, not realizing it refers only to Indianapolis.

    Regarding your reference to Muslim bakeries; knowing the prejudice level in Indianapolis and Indiana, they probably have few non-Muslims as customers. There is nothing comical about discrimination or hypocrisy on any level; the discrimination and hypocrisy of the laws passed by Congress and supported by SCOTUS and the lack of recognizing both in Indiana’s RFRA will continue because most people do not understand what was NOT done by the “revision” of the law locally. Nor do they fully understand what WAS done by SCOTUS ignoring the Constitution and Amendments regarding our civil rights. EVERY American’s civil rights.

  39. Joann Allen, aside from getting the Indianapolis ordinance wrong not once but five times, you continue to drag the entirety of Indianapolis/Indiana into your own skewed and largely bigoted generalizations. Why do you presume “knowing the prejudice level in Indianapolis and Indiana” regarding Muslims, when the Islamic Society of North America–perhaps the largest Muslim social organization on the continent–is based in metro Indy? Indiana is also apparently among the top 10 states for the percentage of its Muslim population (http://www.islam101.com/history/population2_usa.html). If this were such a hostile environment, they could easily choose to live somewhere else. Lastly, I’d be congratulating the 11 municipalities that have LGBT protections, rather than wringing my hands over the ones that don’t. Most of the municipalities are fairly populated areas, meaning that significantly more people in Indiana are covered by protections than one might expect, given the small number of municipalities with laws in the books. And the vast majority of the 50 states have no statewide anti-discrimination laws for LGBT. Arkansas has a law that prohibits municipalities from passing anti-discrimination laws stronger than the state, so they can’t pass anything at a local level.

    I’ll take Sheila’s perspective any day. Your contempt for Indiana and Hoosiers may be just as bad, if not worse, as the contempt the militant Christians show for LGBT people.

  40. The previous message was intended for JoAnn Green, not Joann Allen. My apologies.

  41. Lauren; my term “knowing the prejudice level in Indianapolis and Indiana” was a general reference with the Muslim bakery used as an example. I KNOW the prejudice level of Indianapolis and other areas of Indiana having been born and raised here, lived my life here except for 8 years living in other states. I have been known as a (please all you thinking people, excuse this term as I use it only for Lauren’s benefit) “nigger lover” since the 1950’s. Was disowned by family and so-called friends when I married a black man. It is in recent years I have been called an old fag because of my gay and lesbian friends. I have every right to refer to the prejudice in this city and state; I lived among racists and bigots in my family, my neighborhoods and other towns. Prejudice is alive and well here; and it is now flourishing against LGBTs…it is merely more in the open now, it has always been here and I see no end in sight.

    I strongly support Muslim Rep. Andre Carson and everything he stands for; I have voted for him each time he runs for office just as I supported his wonderful grandmother Julia Carson. The fact that there is no protection from discrimination in most of this state, and no total protection for LGBTs in the 11 “communities” who provide it, and no protection in other states, doesn’t mean it is right or acceptable. After this past week; most people in this state are aware of where these laws/ordinances exist and where they do not. I hope all of the publicity – pro and con – gets people off their butts to register to vote if they haven’t already, and for all them to vote each election day. My friend from Tech High School since 1953 said she hopes all of this ugliness coming to light will fill the registered voter logs and some good will come from it. She is an Atheist; she loves and respects the beliefs of others of all religious denominations as do I. She loves and respects people of different political parties, races, ethnics, country of origin, sexual orientation, economic level, and on and on…and again, as do I.

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