There is only one reasonable response to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana. Because he thinks Indiana’s religious freedom law opens the door to discrimination, he forbids any Connecticut state employee to travel on official business to the state of Indiana. “We are sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated,” he declared. Hoosiers are agreeable people, so I want him to know that I hear his message loud and clear. We, too, will not tolerate discrimination. For that reason, I urge all Hoosiers to support a ban on any publicly funded travel to Connecticut.
Gov. Malloy believes in that ancient moral principle that two wrongs make a right. Let’s see what three wrongs can do! Heck, let’s not just ban state travel to Connecticut. Let’s act with the courage of our Hoosier convictions. For me, I hereby declare that I will not let any of my children apply for admission to Yale, Wesleyan, or UConn.
And what about Seattle? According to Mayor Ed Murray, “discrimination has no place in our city—that’s just equality 101.” Evidently it has no place outside of his city, too, since he thinks Seattle’s moral sovereignty demands a ban on travel to Indiana. Let’s call that “Equality 102 and then some,” though I am waiting to see if he bans state travel to China, which provides very little freedom for Christians or gays, or to the many states that have laws similar or identical to Indiana’s.
Mayor Murray is a perfectionist when it comes to the purity of Seattle’s public expenditures. “I am ordering that none of our taxpayer dollars should go toward supporting this discriminatory law,” he said. I usually agree with fiscal conservatives, but not when Hoosiers have to pay the price for Seattle’s moral self-satisfaction. Seattle officials getting a connecting flight in Indianapolis, for example, will not be permitted to spend any of their per diem on a cup of coffee in our airport, even at a Starbucks, and any Seattle employee driving to Washington D.C. will not be permitted to stop in Indiana for gas or fast food. There is only one logical response. I hereby pledge not to buy coffee with the name of Seattle attached to it (and I will insist that my local Starbucks guarantee that it is not selling me Seattle’s Best in disguise).
I have also decided not to visit my brother in San Francisco, which is also banning travel to Indiana. I actually cannot afford to make that trip this year, and we are not exactly on speaking terms anyway. Moreover, when I visited my brother in the past, I didn’t really contribute much to the city’s tax base. We mainly argued about politics while eating cheap take-out. But I still believe it is important for me to state that I will not allow any funds from my bank account, no matter how small, to go to the support of any city or state that picks on my state. To me, this is a matter of principle so great that I must put it before my family, or at least any members of my family that I am currently alienated from.
After all, we fought a war in these states to make sure that they are united. We must do all that we can to guarantee that any state that does not promote national unity will be punished by other states until it relents. To avoid future dissension, I propose the establishment of a federal interstate non-commerce commission empowered to ensure that various boycotting decisions are evenly enforced.
I am also petitioning Gov. Pence to cease doing business with Salesforce.com, since Mark Benioff, its CEO, has threatened to pull business from our state. Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not actually discriminate against anyone, since it guarantees the same religious freedom for every single Hoosier. But hypothetically, a business owner could use it to keep from participating in activities that violate the owner’s religious views. Mr. Benioff thinks it is important for his businesses to deny services to those who disagree with his own views of discrimination, but he does not think that business leaders should be able to make those kinds of decisions on the basis of their religious views. According to his logic, he has the right to boycott Indiana business because he disagrees with the religious freedom law passed by our legislature, but a Hoosier bakery that does not want to bake a cake for a gay wedding for deeply held religious reasons should be sued into bankruptcy.
I too believe in tolerance, but I cannot tolerate this act of intolerance. Since I do not use any of Benioff’s products, I cannot boycott them, but I hereby pledge not to read his book, Behind the Cloud.
Finally, I will not buy a cake from any bakery that writes the phrase “religious freedom” in quotation marks. I will test them by asking for a cake with the message, “Celebrate Religious Freedom.” If it comes back with “religious freedom” in quotation marks, you can expect me to walk. The media often put quotation marks around religious freedom because journalists do not think it is a real issue. They never put quotation marks around gay marriage, judging religious freedom a ploy or cover-up for something sinister and insidious. Surely, the only people who want religious freedom are bigots! Well, I want religious freedom, and I am not a bigot. What I can’t guarantee about my protest, however, is that I won’t have my “religious freedom” and eat it too.
Stephen H. Webb is a columnist for First Things. He is the author most recently of Mormon Christianity.