The state of Indiana has been inundated with angry rhetoric from both sides of the social and political aisle since Gov. Mike Pence signed a potentially anti-LGBT law into effect on Thursday. This week, things went from bad to worse. A viral Twitter campaign meant to counter the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), #BoycottIndiana, began spreading like wildfire over the weekend, and by Monday, it was nearly impossible to ignore. And thanks in part to major signal boosts from well-known public figures like actor George Takei, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Apple CEO Tim Cook, the hashtag doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.
The angry sentiments from the pro-LGBT side of the argument were addressed by Pence in an interview with ABC's This Week on Sunday. Sort of. Pence explained:
The question here is if there is a government action or a law that an individual believes impinges on their religious liberty, they have the opportunity to go to court, just as the Religious Freedom and Reformation Act that Bill Clinton signed allowed them, to go to court and the court would evaluate the circumstance under the standards articulated in this act.
Pence's supporters, too, have pointed out that the law is no different than similar laws in other states across the country. Of course, the staunchly defensive governor (and his right-wing media counterparts) left out a few important facts that leave the window wide open for potential discrimination of the LGBT community.
For one thing, as The Atlantic's Garrett Epps so keenly pointed out, Indiana's new law contains two provisions that most states' laws do not: Indiana's Senate Bill 101, "explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to 'the free exercise of religion,'" argued Epps. That, in turn, puts corporations on par with individuals in terms of rights and liberties, something also not included in any other federal or state law. RFRA also includes language that gives corporations and businesses (or any for-profit venture for that matter) the right to shut down specific lawsuits against them, which opens the door to discrimination in "employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation," explains Epps.
Luckily, most social media users saw right through the thinly veiled, anti-LGBT extravaganza that is Indiana Senate Bill 101, taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations and point out the hypocrisy of the talking heads that were mouthing off party lines on talk shows galore:
The majority of Indiana may be made up of good and hardworking individuals — but it's probably time for them to stand up against the political ruffians in their state that are currently trying to strong-arm their way into the not-so-distant past and dig up dated bigotries to put on display in the name of religious freedom. And if the current social media sphere is any indication, they'll have plenty of people to back them up.