Tag Archives: four words and a comma

Why the Legislature Should Rip Off the Bandaid

When I was a child and scraped a knee or otherwise required a band-aid, I would dread removing it. Eventually, I learned that it hurt more to try peeling it off bit by bit than it did if I just gave it a good yank.

Fast forward to the Indiana General Assembly, and the back-and-forth about “four words and a comma.”

Leave aside all the rhetoric. Ignore who’s “right” and who’s “wrong,” and just look at the political realities.

If the legislature fails to extend full civil rights protections to LGBT Hoosiers, three things are guaranteed to happen: there will be a replay of the economic boycotts that threatened to knee-cap the state during the RFRA disaster; the business community will take out its anger on Republican officeholders (beginning with the Governor, but definitely not limited to His Holiness); and–worst of all, from the perspective of lawmakers trying desperately not to take a position on the issue— the battle will return in the next session. And the one after that, if necessary.

This is an issue that is crowding out other important matters that lawmakers need to address: infrastructure financing, education, economic development. It will continue to “suck the air” out of the legislative process until it is resolved. (And weenie bills with lots of caveats won’t cut it.)

Proponents of “four words and a comma” will come back again and again until those words and that comma are inserted into Indiana’s civil rights law. Furthermore, the ultimate success of their efforts really isn’t in doubt—as Bob Dylan said, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Prolonging the agony is like peeling back that band-aid a painful bit at a time.

Senator Long seems to understand that. Others, not so much.

Hint to Indiana lawmakers: It will hurt a lot less if you just rip that band-aid off and do the inevitable sooner rather than later.