Who lobbied Indiana’s governor Pence to sign the pro-discrimination bill? He ain’t saying.

March 30, 2015 • 12:00 pm

Three days ago I posted a picture of the signing of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Bill” by governor Mike Pence:


Apparently there was another photo, too, with a different group of “guests” at the signing, including lobbyists  And some of those guests were identified by the GLAAD Facebook page with the caption, “Some of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s guests at the signing of the state’s ‘license to discriminate’ bill look familiar to us.” (GLAAD’s former name was “Gay & Lesbian Alliance against defamation”.)


To make it easier for you to see what these people have said about homosexuality, here are the links (note—it ain’t pretty!):

Curt Smith
Eric Miller
Micah Clark

Note that, according to GLAAD, Governor Pence refused to identify lobbyists in the photo when asked by the Indianapolis Star newspaper  That is indeed the case, for here’s the Star‘s article verifying it:

Who did Gov. Mike Pence invite to a private ceremony at his Statehouse office for the signing of a controversial “religious freedom” bill?

His office won’t say.

The event was closed to the public and the press. His staff even told a reporter to leave the governor’s office lobby/waiting area during the ceremony. And when asked for a list of attendees, they declined, promising a photograph would be posted on Pence’s Twitter account.

His office then declined to identify those in the photo.

The photo includes Pence sitting at his desk, surrounded by 18 others. The legislation’s primary sponsors – Sen. Scott Schneider, Sen. Dennis Kruse, and Rep. Tim Wesco – are pictured. So, too are several Franciscan monks, nuns, and orthodox Jews. One of the monks appears to be Fr. David Mary Engo of the Franciscan Brothers Minor in New Haven. He testified in favor of the bill during legislative hearings.

But according to people who attended, there were dozens of others present as well, perhaps as many as 80 total.

Another photograph, posted on Twitter by the American Family Association of Indiana’s Micah Clark, shows Pence at his desk surrounded by a different group. They include the state’s three most prominent lobbyists on conservative social issues: Clark, the Indiana Family Institute’s Curt Smith, and Advance America’s Eric Miller.

Those three, with their connections to a vast network of conservative churches, led a failed effort last year to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana’s constitution. The governor has tried to distance the religious freedom legislation from that issue.

Pence is a real piece of work: a dissimulator and a liar who continues to deny both that the new bill legalizes discrimination or that it was motivated by animus against gays. However, both of those happen to be true.

As Pundit Fact reports:

At least five times Sunday, ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence a variant on a simple question about Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act: “If a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?”

And at least five times, Pence would not answer.

The article goes on to analyze how this bill differs from those of other states, and fact-checks claims by Pence and others about it.  It’s well worth reading.

This, of course, is the predictable outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which ruled that a family-owned business could, on religious grounds, refuse to pay for contraceptive care for its employees. That opened a whole can of worms, which allows the damn Republicans to follow suit everywhere, denying gays equal protection. How far one can legalize this kind of unconscionable discrimination is unknown, but there will be plenty of cases. And if you can discriminate against gays on religious grounds, who else can you discriminate against?

To show the pervasiveness of this kind of discrimination, and the baffling animus against gays (I can understand it only as a byproduct of religious “morality”), here are two comments that people attempted to post on this site in the last three days:

From reader “R.C.”:

I’m thrilled about this new bill! Go Pence! Indiana is putting an end to LGBT “rights” insanity.

And from reader “DesertDaave”:

Perhaps in Indiana, I, a cake baker, can now choose to not bake a wedding cake specifically depicting a same sex marriage. Or, I a florist, don’t have to deliver flowwers [sic] to celebrate a gay marriage.

So fricken’ what? There are lots of bakers and lots of flowers. Why should the baker of the florist have to recognize what he or she believes is sinful.

As to the rest of what the haters are ranting, it just isn’t true.

Read and pay attention to this: [link to piece on religious freedom laws].

As a side note, I believe that those who have sued and received damages have deliberately gone to those they knew wouldn’t do it, just to create a legal issue. Freedom goes both ways you know or should.

“What he or she believes is sinful”? Seriously? What if Christians think that Jews are sinful by denying the Messiah Jesus Christ? Can they discriminate against Jews? As for those who were discriminated against and sued, I don’t believe for a minute that they planned it.

h/t: Amy

55 thoughts on “Who lobbied Indiana’s governor Pence to sign the pro-discrimination bill? He ain’t saying.

  1. There are still plenty of believers who know in their hearts that African Americans are sons of Ham and so are now in their rights to refuse to let them use their drinking fountains.

  2. Florists, bakers, and other business owners should come up with a “Love all/serve all” type decal for the door. Such a move won’t have any effect on this kind of gubernatorial/legislative bigotry, but progressive-thinking customers can look for the gay-union label, if you will, and be sure they’re not inadvertently supporting bigoted businesses. Yes, the fundies can do the same, but I have faith in the triumph of good over evil. (But dumb-assedness is an admittedly tough adversary.)

    1. It seems to me that Indiana is getting pretty thoroughly rebuked by the rest of the country for this execrable bill. Even if one is utterly indifferent to the actual law itself, there is plenty to criticize about the cloaked signing ceremony and the ensuing lack of transparency by Pence and the Governor’s office.

  3. My own view is that these RFRA bills usually suggest that there is something wrong with the underlying law, and that perhaps everyone should get an exemption. I don’t like giving just the faithful a pass. But there is a lot of uniformed blather around on this. Below is a link to a good article laying out some of the legal background.

    Remember: the original RFRA was passed in response to a Scalia decision — strictly consonant with his usual jurisprudence — denying the religious special rights. It was proposed by a democrat, passed the house unanimously, and the senate 97-3. Clinton signed it. That’s pretty bi-partisan.


  4. I’d like to know which small town in Indiana has such a wide selection of cake bakers that a same-sex couple could go from shop to shop in search of a friendly baker. Small towns are so well known for their diversity…

  5. “… I a florist, don’t have to deliver flowwers [sic] to celebrate a gay marriage.”

    Yeah – why should I, a diner owner, have to serve the sons and daughters of Ham? There are plenty of diners they can use in N-town.

  6. Those pictures make me physically ill. Whenever I see a nun smiling, I think of the hundreds of children in a septic tank in Tuam, Ireland. And of the slavery in the Magdalene laundries untill 1996(!), for which the Church has never apologised. Good thing I’ve already finished supper.

    1. And of the thousands of Canadian aboriginal children who had to endure their disciplinary measures in residential schools. Thankfully now things of the past.

        1. It is all part of the ideology of “pick yourself up by your own bootstraps!” and all the other victim blaming. (Especially a refusal to see second and third generations as possible victims)

  7. All proves that the religious are as devious and ridiculous as always. They hid behind their excuses for religious freedom to discriminate on everything. They were wrong to invent the religion law in 93 and they are wrong with all of them today.

    The first amendment give them more than they should need to protect their freedoms. They are going to lose on the gay rights and marriage, it’s just a matter of time.

    What the democrats should be constantly reminding people is that these religious folks are always republicans. When all minorities are defined under the 14th amendment their religious stuff can go back to the garbage dump where it belongs.

    The supreme court justices were so stupid in the Hobby case they gave the religious a pass on some medical things that had nothing to do with abortion. Just proves those guys look to the bible to do law, not to the law books or medical books.

    1. I am still amazed and some of the (what I see as stupid) reasoning and hypocrisy in the Hobby Lobby case. The one that jars the most is that Hobby Lobby et al believe particular methods of contraception cause abortion so they shouldn’t have to pay for them. The fact is, the methods concerned do NOT cause abortion, so what Hobby Lobby needs is an education, not an exemption.

  8. Still a mystery to us non USA citizens how this can happen in the land of the free. How the hell HAVE religious extremists managed to exert such an influence in such a diverse nation as the United States? I just don’t get it.

      1. Fear of godless communism gave birth to christian capitalist, even though Jesus said that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. But who listens to Him? That’s how christianity became part of being American. In Western Europe socialism and social democracy spread like an itchy red carpet, so we didn’t have that dichotomy between godless communism and christian capitalism.

        It’s sad because the Founding Father explicitly wanted to avoid a marriage between nationalism and religion.

    1. Makes you wanna go to one of those bakeries and request a cake with a priest and an alter boy on top.

  9. I’m probably an outlier here, but there are a few points.

    1) I’m really not crazy about the idea that a person MUST enter into a contract (of a non essential service) just because a customer requests it. Contracts should be mutually agreeable to both parties.

    2) The right to decline to enter into a contract can affect us as well. Why should an atheist web designer, or graphic designer be REQUIRED to do a pro religious or anti abortion job just because some fundie chose them from an internet search?

    3) As a member of a particular demographic (whether gay, atheist, or something else), I would MUCH rather be turned down, than to support someone who had a bigoted attitude against me. I’d much rather be free to deal with someone I can trust to do a good job. When the law prohibits this, you might never know.

    1. 1) I share your misgivings;

      2) This is precisely why I share them; and

      3) The “supporting” part is where I struggle: how am I as a consumer supposed to know if a baker or florist has refused to serve others on a basis I find objectionable? If there is one positive outcome to the passage of these pro-discrimination laws, it is the emergence of the “we serve everyone” badge so I have a cue as to who deserves my patronage.

      I don’t like these religious “freedom” laws because I think they protect uncivil behavior. There are so many ways to take a pass on tpnew business: you can say you’re too busy, you can make extremely high price proposals and most importantly you can state in a kind way that the project is not a good fit for you and maybe even refer the customer to someone who is willing to oblige. It’s the last option that seems to fail the religious: telling people they are sinners is not kind or civil, and I don’t see the prevailing interest in protecting that particular behavior, which it absolutely does.

      I hope right-thinking service providers are loud and proud about their openness, and that people Yelp! the heck out of businesses that turn them down. I also hope the first discrimination case challenging one of these laws is a fundie denied service for being a hater: that might actually be the best test, putting the shoe on the other (wounded) shoe.

    2. “I’m really not crazy about the idea that a person MUST enter into a contract (of a non essential service) just because a customer requests it.”

      Really? You feel that a business that is open to the public, a lunch counter, for instance, should be able to pick and choose who they serve? That’s the way things used to be in this country, especially in the South. There are a number of people apparently, like yourself, who would like to return to that system.

  10. I am shocked, I am disgusted, I am horrified, but … I am not surprised.

    These fine upstanding Christian moralists who keep telling us they are more moral because of g*d and their holy book(s)than atheists, lie and cheat at every chance in order to have their way.

    What other religion says it is OK to lie to infidels? Oh, … wait I know.

    If we did not live in a secular society, what would these same people do in their theocracy. Back to 17th century Europe? Or even earlier.

  11. Obviously this will be challenged in court. What is needed is a Jewish or Muslim shopowner who denies service to a Christian because of his or her religion. Of course the Christian would need to be encouraged to sue.

    This is more or less how Thomas Scopes was accused under the Tennessee law. His act of teaching evolution was reported to the authorities by an ally–and the rest is history. (Unfortunately his conviction was tossed out on a technicality.)

  12. So what if they did choose a florist they knew would discriminate in order to provoke a suit? Thats essentially what Rosa Parks did– it wasn’t a spontaneous “I’m too tired to give up my seat today” sort of thing as I was taught in elementary school, but a calculated and deliberate provocation. And most of us are damn glad she did.

  13. Take away the religious tax exemptions of all those ‘religious’ groups pictured at the bill signing with Pence. If they are going to get involved in politics, they cannot claim the exemption. Period. And this comment is from an Orthodox Jew. Discrimination is discrimination – and any Jew who who knows about the Holocaust should be a strong proponent of freedom for all individuals. I am disgusted to see a rabbi in the photo.

  14. The President of Indiana University, Michael A. McRobbie, has openly and strongly condemned the legislation —


    While Indiana University hopes that the controversy of the past few days will move the state government to reconsider this unnecessary legislation, the damage already done to Indiana’s reputation is such that all public officials and public institutions in our state need to reaffirm our absolute commitment to the Hoosier values of fair treatment and non-discrimination.

    For its part, Indiana University remains steadfast in our longstanding commitment to value and respect the benefits of a diverse society…

    1. “Hoosier values . . . .”

      What are Hoosier values, as compared with Tarheel or Volunteer or Buckeye or any other state-nicknamed “values”? (And as compared to “Amuricun” values?)

  15. The person on the far right is Glenn Tebbe who is the executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference and a big supporter of the bill.

  16. Presumably, I could be refused to be served for being a woman as there are plenty religions who believe women shouldn’t be out purchasing things.

  17. Grant to others the rights you claim for yourself.

    I’ve remembered this from another commenter elsewhere and I always use it as my starting point for these type of issues.

    Seems so simple as to be banal and yet it’s incomprehesible to many.


  18. Besides the obvious repellent aspects of this law, they haven’t thought through all of the implications of this. What if my religion demands that my employees follow Sharia law and women wear burkas, wouldn’t this be just be an exercise of my religious freedom?

  19. I suggest that if they are not going to change the law, they need to amend it…..as follows…..anyone wanting to use this to discriminate must post a sign at every entrance. The sign should clearly say something to the affect “No Blacks allowed, No Gays allowed based on section 9).

    I know this sounds crazy but then we all would know who’s discriminating. I personally have no interest in spending 1 red copper penny on any business that would discriminate against anyone. I want to know who they are so that I never make that mistake. I would love it if someone had a list of them one could print out.

    1. Unfortunately there are areas of the country that would not miss your business. They would probably be proud and happy to put up the signs. Not a good precedent to set.

  20. To paraphrase the AMAZING sara palin: I can see Indiana from my window! There is a lot of steam rising, and now I realize it is not from the steel mills.
    Why are some signings secret and others public?
    I would like to see a list of bill signings with notes as to whether they were public or private.
    Shouldn’t all bill signings be public? They do apply to all the people of indiana, don’t they???

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