It is always heartening when celebrities and businesses respond with outrage to injustice. Not just some ill-thought out comments by passé fashion designers but also to issues like homophobia. And it works.
The US state of Indiana passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which were originally designed to protect a citizen's right to practice their chosen religion. The first incarnation, in 1993, was created on the federal level to help the Yurok, Tolowa and Karok tribes fight a road being built through land sacred to them, and two people who were fired from their jobs after testing positive for mescaline, a substance central to their religious ceremonies. Since then the federal RFRA had been invoked in lawsuits involving the environment, taxation, land use etc.
RFRAs on a state level are a more recent invention and have alas been perverted into institutionalized bigotry. As a backlash against the inevitable legalization of same-sex marriage, a RFRA would permit a fundamentalist, or just a homophobe, baker to refuse to bake a wedding cake for gays or lesbians. And, in a worse scenario, could allow anyone to refuse service or to justifiably discriminate against just about anyone their religion abhors. Most likely that would be LGBTs.
When Indiana governor Mike Pence signed a RFRA into law the reaction was swift and unrelenting. Broadway darling Audra MacDonald was first out of the gate in a series of tweets.
Celebrities as diverse as Ashton Kutcher, Larry King, George Takei, Miley Cyrus, Andy Cohen, Ellen Degeneres, Seth MacFarlane, James Van Der Beek and Mark Ruffalo all weighed in. The most eloquent of all was Cher,
Even Stephen King got into the act,
As did comedians and parodists:
Social media was so abuzz that social media itself had to get into the act.
However the real pushback came in the form of economic threats as Apple, Salesforce, Angie's List, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Gen Con and many other organizations loudly questioned the wisdom of doing business in Indiana. Other governmental entities including the White House and the cities of San Francisco and New York expressed their disdain. But the real kicker was when superstar and hometown boy Jim Nabors, who has sung his hit "Back Home Again in Indiana" to open the Indy 500 since time began, stepped aside. Nabors politely pleaded age, he is 82 and in ill health, but also used the opportunity to come out and introduce the world to his new husband.
NASCAR (The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) had no choice but to speak out against the RFRA. Never underestimate the power of an old queen