On 26 March 2015, the Governor of Indiana signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, one of several so-called religious liberty bills recently vetted by states.
ACPA—College Student Educators International views these bills, in all of their forms, and in all of the states and countries that produce them, as overt acts of discrimination against LGBT people. We believe these bills are destructive to the well being of our colleagues living and working in Indiana, as well as other communities throughout the United States and around the world. We protest passage of the law in Indiana and deeply object to its blatant disregard for human dignity. We join with hundreds of corporations and organizations in this protest.
We have been in direct contact with the Governor Mike Pence’s office (317-232-4567), the Speaker of the House Brian Bosma (317-232-9677) and Senate President David Long (317-232-9416) stating our deep concern and request for repeal of this egregious law. We encourage each of you to call their offices as well. In addition, we have launched a MoveOn petition which we invite you to sign.
There is increasing attention on the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) in the United States due to their highly publicized movements in Mississippi, Georgia, and Indiana.
This movement to “restore religious liberty” by stigmatizing and excluding LGBT people is inspired by historical campaigns like those waged by Anita Bryant in the 1970s and by Fred Phelps in the last decade.
In addition, corporations like Hobby Lobby have prevailed in lawsuits and can now deny benefits, services, and recognition to same-sex families. This corporation is not the only one to deny these benefits. For profit and not-for-profit organizations have done so for many years and continue to do so in states that have not moved forward to affirm marriage for same-sex couples.
Some ACPA members have suggested that our association should boycott Indiana as a site for our meetings until this law is overturned. We completed calls this morning with state advocacy group leaders and ACPA members in Indiana to ask for their recommendations on what actions can best support them. And, we are engaged in conversations with our peer higher education associations regarding the use of boycotts because the majority of our groups have existing contracts for meetings in the state.
To the maximum extent feasible, we want to ensure that any action we take will best amplify the voices of advocates on the ground, mobilize our members to support them and partner with them in the ways that local leaders find most impactful. There are members who have suggested that the State of Indiana may well be the crucible where the work of student affairs is needed at this time more than ever.
The impact of discrimination is everywhere. We know that we must also be everywhere, whether virtually or face to face - including Indiana, in order to fulfill our vision to “lead the student affairs profession and the higher education community in providing outreach, advocacy, research, and professional development to foster college student learning.” The question is whether we are most effective showing up in Indiana or boycotting?
We are scheduled to hold our 2015 Residential Curriculum Institute (RCI) in Indiana in October 2015. Our member campus, Indiana State University, is hosting this program at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. We will be in discussion with them throughout the next several weeks to hear what our members need and want to us to do.
What are some immediate actions we are taking?
- We are writing the US and Indiana State Chambers of Commerce, State Sales Tax Auditor and other business/industry councils and regulating agencies and insist that discriminators in Indiana identify themselves openly and in advance in order to fully advise our LGBT identified members and allies who wish to make an informed choice about purchasing from them.
- We have written and called the Governor and the legislative members who agreed to this law and recommended that they reverse it because it is the right thing to do. We are inviting our entire database of 26,000 people to sign it. You can choose whether to do so or not.
- We will support our members in Indiana in the local actions that they believe best support justice seeking.
- We will continue to consult with local, state, national and international groups who are engaged in countering this type of legislation in every state in the United States.
Our goal is for long-term, sustainable, positive and inclusive change - a model of which we witnessed recently in Montgomery, Alabama during the reenactment of the final leg of the Selma to Montgomery March for voting rights - a 50 year goal not yet reached, but where remarkable progress has been made.
Gavin Henning, President
Donna Lee, Vice-President
Kent Porterfield, Past-President
Cindi Love, Executive Director
John Garland, Director of Equity & Inclusion