Perverting logic and dumping on the health care needs and the constitutional rights of American citizens is becoming an all-too-familiar theme in places where conservatives control legislatures. In Florida, logic washed out to sea when Gov. Rick Scott ordered his administration to shun terms like “global warming,” “climate change” and “sustainability.”
The governor’s decree flies in the face of the fact that about 300,000 houses in Florida are at risk because of rising sea levels. Empirical science proves that sea levels are rising and that Florida faces a potentially perilous future.
In Washington, D.C., conservatives in control of Congress passed a budget that would abolish the Affordable Care Act, a cold-hearted move given that 16 million Americans could lose their health insurance coverage.
It is fair to ask: (a) is it that Congress is displeased that so many — 16 million people — who didn’t have health insurance before Obamacare now have protection for themselves and their families? Or (b) is the congressional budget simply another way to show displeasure at a progressive president who pushes back against right-wing agendas?
And in Indiana, the recently passed “religious freedom” law also defies logic and scatters seeds of fear and loathing while taking a sledgehammer to the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian citizens.
Incidentally, only after a national outcry by numerous corporations that do business in Indiana (including the NCAA, which has its corporate headquarters in Indiana) and wall-to-wall negative media coverage, did Hoosier politicians scramble for higher ground and produce a cursory amendment to the draconian law.
But don’t be fooled by the remarks of David Long, Senate president pro tem in Indiana’s legislature. He asserted that the “revised law” will not “discriminate against anyone, anywhere at any time.”
The public relations damage has already been done, Senator Long.
Long is like the little boy who rushes into the room with hands over his eyes and says, “You can’t see me!” We do see your shameful mindset, Indiana. You can’t paper over irrational biases against the LGBT community with a quick and shallow “fix.”
Here in Cambria, the iconic hospitality venue, the Cambria Pines Lodge, welcomes LGBT guests and promotes its services for same-sex wedding ceremonies on several national marriage websites.
“Everybody deserves happiness and legal protection from discrimination,” said Becky Evans, director of sales and marketing at the lodge. “Laws which allow businesses to refuse service to people, or to discriminate in other ways — based upon sexual orientation or gender identity — are contrary to the spirit of equality and inclusion upon which most Americans pride themselves.
“The vast majority of Americans do not support legalized discrimination in any form,” Evans asserted, after pointing out that the lodge hosted a same-sex wedding April 11.
Several members of the gay and lesbian community in Cambria were asked to weigh in on the Indiana — and Arkansas — “religious freedom” legislation.
Greenspace President Wayne Attoe, an author and retired professor of architecture and urban design, said that the “era of government and corporate discrimination against gays and lesbians in the U.S. is blessedly fading fast.
“It’s hard for me to understand why people still think discrimination has merit,” Attoe added.
Retired Cambria Realtor Ron Sampson believes conservative legislators in Indiana simply wanted to offer a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex marriage in Indiana is constitutional.
“I think this is the last bastion of, ‘Let’s do whatever we can to forestall whatever rights (for gays and lesbians) we can.” When the law was announced in the media, “at first I was just very sad that any state could pass a law like this,” Sampson explained.
As a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church in San Luis Obispo, Sampson believes the gay community “is standing on the side of love, but some people aren’t. If people want to be on the right side of history, they will support equal rights for all, and if they don’t, they won’t.”
Sampson — who married partner Pete Frith in 2008, Cambria's first gay marriage — said politicians who write laws like Indiana’s are “playing to the fears of people who don’t know what it’s all about.”
Cambria resident Judith Pratt, who chairs the Communication Department at California State University, Bakersfield, and is an associate professor, said notwithstanding the recent “fix” to the legislation, Indiana’s reputation “has been damaged. They gleefully signed it. … They put their foot where they wanted it and they put it right in their mouth.”
When Pratt got word of the signed legislation April 1, her response was, “What the hell are they thinking? Gay marriage is already legal in Indiana … this was ill-timed. I’m happy that the kickback (from corporations, fair-minded citizens, and the media) has been so ferocious.
“I was listening to an Indiana pastor on NPR this morning,” Pratt continued, “who said ‘I should have the right to not perform a gay marriage,’ and I thought, who would want to get married in your church anyway?”
Pratt and her partner bought a home in Cambria in 2011, and Cambria has been “very, very welcoming,” she said.
According to Google Maps, it is 2,219 miles from Cambria to the statehouse in Indianapolis. But taking into consideration Cambria’s values and the community’s level of inclusiveness and diversity — juxtaposed with what we witnessed in Indiana — Cambria is actually a couple of hundred light-years distant from the Hoosier state of mind.