Letter: Change state civil rights code to protect all

From: Mark Easterday


There have been many letters to the editor and Onions/Orchids that have championed discrimination and bigotry in the name of religious freedom. The call has gone out to contact your lawmakers to stop proposed changes to the state civil rights code to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Some lawmakers have shamefully proposed leaving a clause in any new protections that allows discrimination in the name of religious freedom.

What some people do not seem to understand is that you have freedom to practice your religion up to the point where it deprives others of their freedoms. It is very simple. If you decide to open a public business, you must be prepared to serve all of the public, not some of the public. You cannot use your religious freedom to discriminate against some of the public. If your religious beliefs prevent you from serving all of the public, then you cannot open a public business.

People considering opening a public business such as a bakery, flower shop, wedding planning service, etc., who feel they cannot offer their services to everyone need to find another way to make a living or another public business where they will not learn about a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, etc., and then feel compelled to practice discrimination and bigotry against them.

We absolutely need to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state civil rights code because there is an organized and ongoing effort to discriminate against the LGBT community in this state. It is sad that laws need to be passed to compel people to stop hating each other and to be compassionate.

But minority groups do need special protection so their freedoms are not compromised. This can be accomplished without intruding on a person’s religious freedom to do as they wish in private churches, private businesses, in the privacy of their homes, etc. These protections will not compel private churches to marry LGBT couples or anything else they find disagreeable. However, it will compel public businesses and institutions to not discriminate.

It saddens me that some people need to hate another group of people to the point where they want to legalize discrimination and bigotry against them. They try to justify this poor behavior, which deep down they probably know is wrong, by calling it a crusade for religious freedom. It is not.

The people wanting to practice discrimination and bigotry against LGBT individuals probably don’t know any personally. If you have a relative, friend or someone you grew up with in school who is LGBT, you would know that it is not a lifestyle choice but that you are born that way. The younger generations and almost every civilized country in the world understand this. It is sad that some in Indiana do not.

It is time for people to practice love and compassion and set aside their hatred that leads to discrimination and bigotry. Treat others the way you want to be treated.