We aren’t all bigots in Indiana

If you usually read my blog because it’s based on running and fitness, be warned that today it isn’t. At times I just need to write about what’s on my mind at the time, and this is definitely one of those times. This week, Indiana’s leaders, including Governor Pence, signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Bill. Let me start by saying I am a Christian. I was raised in the Christian church from birth. I have a strong faith, live a good life, and try very hard to live my life as Christ would want (those who know me know I have a long way to go!). I also have a daughter who is gay. I’ll get to that later.

This week, I am completely dismayed that our representatives can disregard their constituents, and sign a bill that allows discrimination against homosexuals. Here is the legal language of the bill:

Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.

The leaders have said it’s misunderstood: ” they say it’s supposed to be a standard for the courts in cases involving religious freedom.” Bullshit. It allows a business to deny service to someone based on sexual orientation because it’s against the owner’s religion, and the government cannot burden that exercise of religion. Seriously. It’s 2015 and our state just took us back to the 1950s. The leaders have said the bill is just like federal legislation put into action by Bill Clinton. Bullshit. That bill was signed to allow women to wear religious garb in the workplace and Jewish men to wear yamakas without fear of consequences. The intent of these bills is not the same. One was created so that someone isn’t discriminated against, the other allows discrimination without consequences from the government. If that wasn’t Indiana’s intent, perhaps they should have worded it differently. When the entire country believes it encourages discrimination, there’s a problem, Governor Pence.

Multi-million dollar companies have threatened to pull out of Indiana; the NCAA has issues with bringing their athletes to Indiana; people on Twitter have said they will no longer spend their money in Indiana. This law does nothing positive for our state. It makes all of us look like a bunch of unacccepting rednecks. It is going to hurt our economy. And it hurts people. Real, honest, hardworking, contributing members of our communities. George Takei called for a boycott of our state. They are boycotting our state, Governor Pence. I think your hopes for a presidential run just went down the drain along with your integrity.

Christians. As I said, I am one of you. My faith has carried me through many wonderful highs and devastating lows in life. I’ve studied the Bible, and spent hours and hours in Sunday School and church. In none of my Christian education or reading did I learn that it’s okay to turn anyone away. Jesus – whom Christians are supposed to follow – denied service to no one…NO ONE! He spent time with Mary Magdalene, the prostitute; he loved her. He went to have dinner with Zacheus. We sang about it, dammit. The wee little man? Why don’t you remember? Jesus spent his time with ‘sinners’ and outcasts. He showed love to everyone. Saying you can’t serve someone because it goes against your Christian religion goes directly against the teachings of Christ. Will you also refuse to serve the following?

  • Divorced and remarried people? The Bible says they are adulterers. A big no-no.
  • Men and women who had sex before marriage? Sin. It clearly goes against Biblical teaching (there goes your business).
  • Those who use God’s name in vain? Heck, that’s even a commandment.
  • People who covet their friends’ big homes or luxury vacations? Lots of jealous people out there.
  • People who work on Sunday, not keeping the Sabbath holy? Are you open on Sunday?
  • Women who cut their hair or wear make-up? According to the Bible, that’s a sin.
  • People who drink or eat too much? Over-indulgence in food and drink…SIN.

Why do so many Christians choose which ‘sins’ are important? Who do they think they are? The Bible, above all, commands us to love. That’s it. Love. If you disagree with homosexuality, fine. But please know it isn’t a choice. Why would my then 16 year old daughter come to me to tell me she is gay if it were her choice? Why would she put herself out there to face the scorn and judgment of others? No kid wants to be different and be the target of bullies. I am heterosexual – always have been. I couldn’t make myself desire other women if my life depended on it. If I wanted to rebel against my parents or society, I still couldn’t just ‘decide’ to be gay one day. Could you? I got a text from a great friend who is also upset about this new law. She texted, ‘I am straight and the last time I checked, I can’t remember the moment when I ‘chose’ to be straight.’ We have no more control over our sexuality than we do the color of our skin. But it’s illegal to refuse service to people of different ethnicities, isn’t it?

My beautiful daughter is one of the best people I know. She is a senior, preparing for graduation and college. She is in the top 10 in her class, president of the National Honor Society, a golf and tennis player, drama club member, band member, and the list goes on and on. She is kind to everyone, willing to help others, and she’s gay. That’s a small part of the amazing person she is, yet someone could refuse to serve her because her ‘gayness’ goes against his or her religion? Someone could hurt her so deeply because our government won’t ‘burden his or her exercise of religion’? How is that following the Bible? How is that following in Christ’s footsteps? As her mother, it breaks my heart to think that this is even possible.

The implications of this new law will continue to embarrass Hoosiers. I have yet to see one positive aspect of signing this bill. I, despite having been raised Republican, have always stayed out of politics because I despise the double talk, but we have to stand up and be counted. And when the leaders of our state disregard our wishes, we have to fight harder. In a couple of weeks, the anger over this bill will die down, but we can’t let it go. Social media is powerful; use it. Email your representatives. Let fellow Americans know that we are not all bigots. Most of us welcome and encourage diversity. Most of us are loving and friendly. Our governor? Not so much. He had his own agenda, and cares nothing about what he is doing to our state. He is narrow-minded and uninformed. He is not representative of a Hoosier.

Homosexuality Isn’t Contagious…

…I really want to add an expletive, but that just wouldn’t be right, would it? I have encountered a couple instances of plain old ignorance in the past week, and that, of course, prompted this blog. As the mother of three daughters, I have always prided myself on staying out of their fights. I was not a mom who got in the middle of their drama, and I didn’t call other moms complaining that their girls were picking on my babies. I have seen lots of girls make up the next day, while the parents continue to bash one another. That isn’t pretty. I also know that many times (most times?) my daughters probably had some part in whatever was going on. Even when I saw the hateful messages sent by the mean girls, I refrained (as hard as it was) from getting involved. Consequently, my girls can take care of themselves.

And here comes the however…when adults are hateful, it pisses me off. Ignorance? Well, there is just no excuse for it. So, without using names, I will just put them in my blog, and perhaps they will read it, and realize how ridiculous their words were.

The first incident was last week on – get this – Facebook. A person from the church we attend posted the following:

Here’s my two cents worth on this gay football player getting all this attention. I heard a preacher many years ago say that God made ADAM AND EVE NOT Adam and Steve. We just celebrated Mother’s Day. If this stupidity continues somewhere down the line we won’t have Mother’s day. Come on people WAKE UP!!!

First of all, I am really sick of the whole ‘Adam and Steve’ thing. Grow up. But then there is the ignorant part: Seriously? Everyone is going to DECIDE to be gay, so we won’t have any more kids, hence no more Mother’s Day? That’s ignorance at its finest. I tried to reply as respectfully as my ticked-off brain would allow. I told him that homosexuality is NOT a choice, and that because I have a daughter who is gay, I am offended by his post. And then, another church-goer replied:

 Let UM HAVE IT GARY. HOPE IT,S NOT TOO LATE.

(I won’t even touch the errors). And people wonder why so many people don’t attend church? Thankfully, we have an awesome church, and this is not the norm. I considered not returning because I will not go anyplace where my daughter is not welcome, but after some online conversations with my minister, I knew that wasn’t the answer. I went to church yesterday, and I worked really hard to think nice thoughts, after all, God knows what I am thinking!

I got through that, and only lost one night’s sleep. Then last night hit. My daughter came home, seemed a little down, and headed upstairs. After a short time, I received a text from her (What? Don’t you text from another room – especially another level – to avoid all that walking?). One of her best friend’s mothers decided that her daughter could no longer be friends with my daughter because…yes, you guessed it…she doesn’t want her daughter to be GAY!  Are you kidding me? It’s contagious? Really? I went upstairs to console my now-sobbing daughter. Hearing her say, “Mom, I’m not a bad person,” was heart-breaking. No, she isn’t a bad person. In fact, she is one of the best people I know. She is kind, intelligent, athletic, responsible, and beautiful. She is everything I could ask for in a child. She has never been in trouble; she doesn’t touch drugs or alcohol; she is going to serve as president of the National Honor Society; and students and staff respect her. Addison is in every leadership group she can be; she’s an awesome golfer; she is in the top 10 in her class. But because she happens to be gay, a parent won’t let her daughter hang out with her? I want to smack that mother. I am not a violent person (at my size, that would just get me in trouble), but this ignorant woman broke my daughter’s heart and made her question her worth. How dare she. I suspect it might not be so much that she doesn’t want her daughter to ‘catch gay’, but that she is worried what others might think. If she hangs around a gay friend, she must also be gay. Right? This mother is likely more concerned with her own image than with doing what’s right.

I wish people would realize that sexuality is only one part of who we are. There is so much more to a person than whom he or she is attracted to. My daughter is a wonderful friend. She would give her last dime to help someone. She is fun to be around, and so compassionate. She is an excellent listener, and can provide common sense when needed. Certainly, she isn’t out trying to convert heterosexuals to the other side. I told her that when she goes to college, things will be better. When she gets out of this small town, she will be more accepted for who she is. The thing is, for the most part the kids at school have been awesome. It’s some of the adults who are judgmental and small-minded.

What’s the answer? We have to educate people. We, and by that I mean YOU, have to stand up for acceptance. Homosexuality is NOT a choice. Gay teens deserve the same kindness, respect, and friendship as every other kid. People need to quit throwing the Bible at the gay community, especially when they choose to focus on only what doesn’t affect them. In the Bible it says the following are sinful:  divorce, using the Lord’s name in vain, cutting one’s hair, wearing make-up, over-indulgence of food or drink, gambling….you get the point. So why do some people pick out only the verses on homosexuality? Why do they have the right to force their interpretation on me? The overall message of the Bible is to love one another. That’s it. We aren’t called to judge or condemn; we are only called to love.

I’ve said this before, but if you are curious about the whole Bible/Homosexuality debate, there is a book called ‘Torn’ by Justin (Somebody) on Amazon that is fabulous. If you want to help kids like Addison, please share this blog. My daughter is not contagious.