Garrison: Ruining a state economy

Zac Garrison Senior from Franklin, Ky.

     America has really come a long way. As generations start to become more progressive and accepting, the nation follows suit. Of course, it’s not perfect by any means. The reminder of how flawed we are as a nation was shoved into our faces earlier this week after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

What this law says is that businesses have the right to refuse business or service to anyone that may infringe upon their own religious beliefs.

This law isn’t directly discriminatory toward anyone, but aids and promotes discrimination. Is the burden of taking money from somebody you aren’t particularly fond of worth actively discriminating?

This act may have the intention of protecting religious beliefs, but what they are really doing is offering a scapegoat for discrimination and bigotry. It just looks like a poorly disguised model for legal prejudice.

This act being passed hasn’t gone unnoticed, though. Over the past week the media has been lit on fire by this and rooms full of public relations agents are frantically typing out statements shunning the whole state and pulling their business operations from Indiana.

Businesses are backing out of business deals being done in Indiana, bands are canceling shows and even Connecticut’s Governor Dan Malloy tweeted that he is signing an executive order canceling all state-funded travel to Indiana. 

   The state, after signing this act, stands to lose millions of dollars just within the month because businesses and people alike are standing up to Indiana and showing they don’t tolerate the right to discriminate.

So now that all of these dollars are exercising their religious freedoms by not falling into the hands of Indiana, we would think Pence would either repeal the act or at least entertain the idea of amending it. That’s not the case. Pence has stood firm that this law is just and legal and he won’t be changing it.

What comes next? Indiana’s economy will start to rapidly decline as the media continues to cover the story. Big businesses and small businesses alike will start to realize that having business operations in Indiana will look like they support the state’s decision to pass the questionable law.

A large part of being a business includes your responsibility to the public. Part of that responsibility is to show your customer that their money is just good as their neighbor’s money and to acknowledge that gay dollars and straight dollars look surprisingly similar on an income statement.

I feel for the citizens of Indiana who opposed the signing of the act. With one

man’s signature, a target was put on your back. Also, imagine the outrage if an atheist or Muslim shop owner kicked out a Christian family because their choices of religion didn’t match up with his or hers. Would the act still be 100 percent applicable there?

Seeing how the public and the media are handling the signing of this act, we won’t see many other states chomping at the bit to pass one of their own.

Indiana’s governor, who was rumored to be interested in the Republican Party nomination for president, has really ruined his reputation with the public after this.

I’m glad to see how the media and the public have handled this situation. It’s not often we see big businesses intentionally losing business to reaffirm with the public just how progressive and accepting we have the potential to be.

I can only imagine how hesitant Governor Pence is to check his email, voicemail and front door.

Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.