Dear PFLAG Members and Supporters:
Governor Michael Pence of Indiana signed into law a bill that gives people permission to discriminate against others, citing their religious beliefs. Some people claim that it is “just” a bill about religious freedom, a founding principle of our country, and that it is not intended to be discriminatory. However, the current language of the bill allows people to use a claim of “freedom of religion” as a freedom to discriminate. We are so proud of Indiana PFLAGers who have been relentless, vocal, and organized in letting all other Hoosiers know the real impact of the Indiana law. On CNN, on local news, in social media, and even organizing and leading the charge at rallies, PFLAGers are sending an unequivocal message that PFLAG’s values are America’s values.
PFLAG members are standing alongside business and industry leaders who are raising their voices--and in some cases, closing their wallets--to send a powerful message that writing discrimination into the law is bad for our country and bad for business. Look no further than Marriott International CEO and President Arne Sorenson calling the law “madness” and “idiocy” while he spoke at PFLAG National's Seventh Annual Straight for EqualityTM Gala this week in New York City for evidence of how strong the response has been.
In Arkansas, a similar law is pending that the Governor today urged the legislature to clarify as not discriminatory, but still could be signed into law, even without that clarification. In that case, leaders at Walmart, including their CEO Doug McMillan, have called the proposed law a threat to “the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas.” Meanwhile, in Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida, our transgender community is being subjected to bills that criminalize and/or fine their ability to use a restroom.
There have been more than 70 state legislative bills in more than half the states in our country that would harm people who are LGBTQ, and some states have introduced multiple bills; Texas alone has 20. To date, three have become law--in Indiana, Utah, and Arkansas.
Across the country, PFLAGers’ voices are strong, clear, and heard. Many PFLAGers who identify as people of faith, have expressed shock, anger, and sadness that some of their elected officials would shamefully attempt to make discrimination the law of their state and use religious liberty as the rationale for doing so. PFLAG family and ally voices have always had a critical role to play in moving equality forward. Today is no exception. In fact, PFLAGers are standing up and demanding that this be called out for what it is--discrimination is wrong, no matter how it gets packaged. To pair it with religious liberty is an insult to those of us whose family, culture, and traditions are steeply rooted in faith tradition.
Our family and ally stories mirror how people’s lives are affected by potentially harmful actions, and not just those who are LGBTQ. PFLAG voices represent a large number of people--parents, family members, and allies--who might not otherwise be visible and whose opinions may not be represented anywhere else. PFLAG voices are the voices of our neighbors, our coworkers, the people with whom we gather in our faith communities. PFLAG voices are the voices of local communities across each state and throughout the country. PFLAG voices truly are America’s voices.
PFLAG will not accept actions by any level of government in our country that enshrines into law the permission for people to legally discriminate against our children and grandchildren, our loved ones, ourselves. We will continue to raise our collective family and ally voices against discrimination.
Tell your elected officials, your neighbors, your colleagues--anyone you think will have influence to stop this onslaught of discriminatory bills--that PFLAG’s values are America’s values, and we won't let up until each and every one of these bills ends up on the legislative trash heap where they belong.
Yours in PFLAG solidarity,
Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director
P.S. A conference committee of the Indiana state legislature, moments ago, began debate on a proposed amendment to Indiana's law to clarify that it prohibits service providers from using the law to deny services, goods, facilities, or accomodations, and bars discrimination based on stated protected classes, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and others.
However, there is no guarantee that it will pass through a conference committee, and both the Indiana State House and Senate...and it does not erase the more than 70 other similar state legislative bills still in play.
We must keep the pressure on!