April 2, 2015 by kittynh
A good friend, and all around great human being, posted this on his Facebook page. He kindly agreed to allow me to share that post here. I am honored to share his opinions and views on the recent happenings in Indiana.
So, I don’t make it a habit to comment on US Political stuff, but this most recent Indiana ‘Freedom of Religious Expression’ law has got under my skin, so I’m going to rant for a bit.
For the record – I am a small ‘l’ libertarian (not in the Sarah Palin sense), an Atheist, and a homosexual. Not necessarily in that order.
However, none of those three things are readily apparent when I walk into your place of business. I don’t advertise these aspects of my life anywhere except for… here on my facebook page, and my friends and family are aware of these attributes that make up my character. They accept these things for what they are – they may not like everything about my view on religion, politics, or my sexuality, but they still come along for the ride. I have a rich assortment of friends and colleagues, so apparently while I may indeed be a difficult pill to swallow at times, I suppose I have something to offer.
Now – this is what I find so strange about this new law in Indiana. You know, I’m all for ‘Freedom of Religion’. Its an important concept. I cannot expect to seek freedom FROM religion, if I don’t also appreciate that the religious are free to practice their own. My friend Penn Jillette said something similar recently on CNN – google it. Freedom of Religion to me, means that one has the freedom to practice one’s religious beliefs, within the limitations of the laws of the land.
By this, if your religion allowed you to murder someone (ie – Christianity, Leviticus 24:16) your ‘Freedom of Religion’ doesn’t allow you to commit murder without facing due consequences.
The US has MOSTLY adopted quite reasonable laws against discrimination, which in several states, extends to sexual orientation. It is too soon to suggest that LGBT people in the US are protected from discrimination, but the country is by and large on the right path (assuming that one is of the opinion that the choice of whom you share your bed is entirely irrelevant to your worth as a human being.)
So – if you are a restauranteur in Indiana, I certainly acknowledge your privilege to disapprove of LGBT people (or any other sort of person), and that source of disapproval may be your upbringing, your views on race, or your religious stance. However, the fact you don’t LIKE something, doesn’t mean you have the right to discriminate against them. Until now.
Restaurants are now free to refuse to serve LGBT people, and advertise publicly that they take this stance. Its not just that I find this personally revolting, I find it incredibly stupid.
For starters, how does a restaurant know, that they are indeed serving a gay person? Unless they catch me in the cubicle partaking in gay sex (something I don’t do in public), most people would probably never know that I am gay. I am of a certain height/weight ratio that doesn’t fit the stereotypical mould of most gay men. I can often be found in a certain state of dishevelment as regards my attire/personal grooming, and I don’t believe I have any stereotypical behaviours that betray my bedroom activities. I do have great taste in loud shirts if I do say so myself, but other than that – I’m a pretty average Joe.
I assume that in Indiana, restauranteurs will be posing their potential diners some sort of questionnaire before serving them. I envision a little survey:
“Greetings prospective diner. Before we provide you our menu selections, would
you please answer the following questions:
If you are male:
Have you ever performed fellatio on another male? Yes/No
If you answered yes to the above question, can you please elaborate? When was the last time? How many cocks have you sucked? Did you enjoy it? Certain leeway may be granted by Christ our Saviour if you merely had a one-time dalliance at Scout Camp, some alcohol fuelled hi-jinks in your University dorm, or were compelled by a gang of teenage sodomites to perform oral sex at risk of forcible anal penetration.”
I can’t really think of the female version of the questionnaire, because I know very little about lesbianism. I think it has something to do with liking
flannel shirts, sensible shoes, and the ability to drink me under the table.
Is the Maitre’d going to be empowered to make a subjective decision on sexually adventurous/bisexual types? What if (former) Rev. Ted Haggard wanted to come in for a quick footlong? Would he get served in Indiana?
Will the waiter take a time out and seek spiritual guidance on whether or not they should serve ‘Fergie’ who, while known to be a good tipper, also is known to partake in the love that dares not speak its name, when it floats her boat?
And, does God really want to be disturbed from causing earthquakes, not curing children’s cancer, allowing starvation to ravage Africa, and helping sports teams win Superbowls, by such appeals for judgement?
Perhaps separate menus: The straight clientele get the full menu, there is of course the seniors specials, and the children’s section. And for the perhaps not-so-straight-but-not-really-gay crowd, special selections designed to not inspire carnal thoughts. No bananas, cucumbers, oysters, and definitely no buns.
As someone involved in government, this law makes no sense, because I think it is going to be hell to implement and administer.
I fully respect a business’ right to refuse service to someone. I don’t want to eat in a restaurant that doesn’t have a ‘no shoes, no shirt, no service’ type policy – unless I’m at the beach, or frankly, a gay establishment. As the owner of a few small businesses, I have consciously chosen to opt out of serving potential customers that just ring of trouble. Clients that I know lack the ability to pay. Clients who seem to be gearing up for a fight/complaint/lawsuit. I fall back upon good judgement here, and a little bit of tact. “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to fill your order.” “I don’t think I can help you with exactly what you’re seeking, you should try somewhere else.” As a libertarian, I respect the rights of business people to choose whom they wish to serve. However – not from a posture of prejudice.
If someone really is uncomfortable serving Richard Simmons, and doesn’t want to take his ‘Deal-a-meal’ money, because of assumptions about what he gets up to on his private Lido deck on those chubby cruises, then I don’t have a problem if they find a way to turn him aside. ‘I’m sorry sir, we require people to not wear sequinned athletic attire to eat here.’ would suffice, and be quite defensible. The moment you say ‘I refuse to serve you because Xenu prohibits me to bring you a milkshake, on the basis of what I assume you do in your bedroom’ – you’re being an idiot. You can THINK that all you want, but you need to use a little tact in execution. This law is a perfect example of unnecessary government involvement. A bakery that doesn’t want to make a wedding cake for a gay couple can find 17 ways ‘til Sunday to opt out of taking the order, without behaving like total douche-canoes.
Another particularly stupid aspect of the law, is that it represents biblical cherry-picking. So you don’t want to serve LGBT people. Fine. I also expect you then to not also serve the following people (this is not necessarily an exhaustive list, just the ones that leap to mind):
- Uncircumcised men: (Gen 17:14)
- Anyone wearing blended fabrics (Lev 19:19)
- People who talk in church: (1Cor 14:34-35)
- Anyone who has worked (in any way) on the Sabbath: (Ex 20:10)
- Anyone who eats fat (Lev 3:17) – note, this one is probably very problematic for most restauranteurs.
I could go on. Why the fascination with making sure you don’t offend your spiritual beliefs by not serving LGBT people? There are a whole other lot of people you shouldn’t be associating with as dictated by your Bible, seems like you’re being awfully selective.
“But, that wouldn’t be practical – if I didn’t serve anyone I was prohibited against associating with, I wouldn’t have any customers”, pleads the Indiana restauranteur with the large cross hanging around her neck. Funny. Because I suspect this is exactly what is going to happen when the invisible hand of the marketplace ensures that no LGBT people, having lots of disposable income, and being generally good consumers of restaurant meals, decide to not frequent your place of business because of your discrimination.
Smooth move, Indiana.
Afghanistan just celebrated their new year, it is now 1394 over there. Perhaps you should apply for statehood.
….and now even more from Oke!
As a followup to my little piece on Indiana, I offer the following thoughts.
Apparently, Indiana has somewhat backpedaled, in a relatively wishy-washy response. At the end of the day, you probably won’t be able to discriminate against LGBT people by refusing to do business with them. Indiana did ratify Gay Marriage in late 2014. Indiana has yet to change its state anti-discrimination laws to include LGBT people (you can still be fired for being a pillow-biter) but perhaps in light of all this attention, that conversation is about to happen. Is it a perfect outcome? Not really, but it is certainly better than where we were at a couple of days ago.
At the time of writing, approximately $850,000 has been raised for the owners of ‘Memories Pizzeria’, one of the companies that started the media frenzy around the Indiana religious freedom law.
The owner of the Pizzeria, stated in a news report, that while she would be happy to serve gay people in the restaurant, she would refuse to cater a gay wedding.
Now – here is where things get pretty wacky.
Lets crunch a few numbers. Lets assume that the percentage of the US population that are LGBT is something like 5%. I’ve seen numbers that report its higher, some lower , it doesn’t really matter, as you’ll soon see. But we’ll begin with 5%.
The population of Walkerton, Indiana is estimated at around 3500 according to the Walkerton Indiana City Hall website. (This based on the 2010 population estimate being about 3000, and estimated projection to 3700 by 2020.) That means, all things being equal, there are about 175 LGBT people living in Walkerton. Assuming an even ratio of gender distribution, there are at maximum, 87 LGBT couples living in Walkerton.
Now, of these 87 POTENTIAL couples (on the high side – presumably there are a number of unattached LGBT people among the population of Walkerton – but maybe it is a blissful location and everyone pairs off. We’ll look at the outside numbers first.) Since gay marriage was passed last October, there may be a little scurry of activity for gay weddings in Walkerton. Lets say ½ of all LGBT couples want to publicly tie the knot in Walkerton in 2015. That means there could be up to 43 gay marriages to be performed this year. (I make the assumption here that Walkerton isn’t generally seen as a destination for gay weddings among other Indiana small towns. Probably a safe assumption before all this media attention, perhaps less so, now.)
Memories Pizza menu is no longer available online, but lets assume that the average large pizza costs $20 each. Probably on the high side, but hey, if they’re concerned that they could be asked to cater a gay wedding, they must be couture. Lets further assume that the average Walkerton gay wedding is a moderate affair – 100 attendees. Considering the population of the town, that is a pretty big social event, but you know, LGBT people are known for throwing a good bash. To feed 100 people, I would probably order 15 large pizzas. Let me be perfectly clear – I would never cater a gay wedding with pizzas, and I assume that the vast majority of LGBT people would agree that a pizza party probably isn’t the ‘Conde Nast’ recommended catering choice for your gay nuptials. But again, apparently this pizzeria thinks that they may be this season’s go to gay wedding supplier, for all these gay marriages in Walkerton.
15 pizzas at $20 a pop means the catering bill for these 43 gay weddings is $300 per wedding. The gay wedding pizza catering business in Walkerton, at the most generous calculation, is $12,900 (gross) in 2015. In reality, I suspect the figure is significantly less (I genuinely hope it is somewhere around $0).
So – the ROI to state publicly one’s bigotry and strength of ‘faith’, getting a little media attention and becoming an internet star for 48 hours, is approximately 65X annualized revenue.
Its almost enough to make me consider converting.
Happy Easter, Walkerton, Indiana. If I were you, I’d splurge and go for the double cheese.