Critics of the law have seized the upper hand in the battle for public opinion. "The list of businesses, governments, and famous people boycotting the state of Indiana over Gov. Mike Pence's decision to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is still growing," Robby Soave writes. "Now even Nick Offerman—the comedian and actor who played libertarian hero Ron Swanson on NBC's Parks and Recreation—has cancelled his upcoming Indiana comedy tour dates. Ashton Kutcher, Larry King, Charles Barkley, and a host of other celebrities have made similar declarations, as have several companies, cities, and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy—even though Connecticut has had RFRA in place for the last 20 years."
This puzzles me.
When 13 states prohibit gay-marriage outright, what sense does it make for gay-rights supporters to boycott a different state where gay marriage is legal?
Being barred from marriage puts a significant burden on gay couples—a burden many orders of magnitude greater than the relatively small possibility of being refused by an atypically religious photographer or baker in the course of planning a same-sex wedding (the outcome the law's opponents assert to be its true purpose). And there is no reason to think this law would allow a hotel or a restaurant to exclude gay customers, or that any hotels or restaurants are interested in doing so.
So why is Indiana public enemy number one?
The talented band Wilco has cancelled its May 7 show in Indianapolis, commenting that the law "feels like a thinly disguised legal discrimination." But Wilco is playing two April shows in Texas, a state that doesn't yet issue marriage licenses to gays. That is, Texas engages in not-at-all-disguised discrimination. Wilco also has upcoming shows in Missouri, Ohio, and Kentucky, other states that don't grant marriage licenses to gays at all despite court rulings (which are presently stayed) declaring that its existing policy constitutes unconstitutional discrimination. Indianapolis, by contrast, actually has a municipal statute that bans anti-gay discrimination!
Then there's this:
NASCAR said in a statement Tuesday that it was "disappointed" by the legislation, and the NCAA, which has had its headquarters in Indianapolis since 1999, says it is concerned about the law's effect on future Indiana events.
NASCAR hosts events at tracks in the following states where gay marriage is illegal: Kentucky, Michigan, and Texas. Are future events in those states in doubt?
The reaction from politicians who oppose the law is confounding in its own way.
Most notable is Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic frontrunner. She published this short statement on Twitter: "Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn't discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT." I wholeheartedly agree that no one should discriminate against anyone for being gay. But it isn't lost on me that I started championing that position more than a decade before the Democratic frontrunner, who opposed allowing gay couples to marry one another as recently as 2013! Now that she's changed public positions—a shift that perfectly tracked broader public sentiment —she declares Indiana out of step with the times for making gay weddings legal, because refusing to bake cakes for them may be legal, too. In other words, Indiana's "sad" position today is far more progressive than Clinton's own stance was just a few years ago.