In Indiana, a controversial law has been put into place called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This is far from the first time (or the last time) people have discriminated against a group a people based on “moral” values. Some past examples include women being excluded from all-men’s groups, or the segregation of African Americans from white society.
These things still happen today; whether it is GLBT couples being told they can’t get wedding cakes, or people with developmental disabilities being forced to be together ad excluded from places in so-called “normal” society. What is amazing is that many in society have decided that this will not stand and have done things to try to bring awareness to issues and force change. This has been done in the past, sometimes successfully, and sometimes with no results. The public outcry about the Indiana law has had results—as of this writing, an amendment to the RFRA has been made to ensure it does not discriminate against gay and lesbian customers of Indiana businesses.
The public outcry about the Indiana law has had results.
Many social media and other campaigns have tried to make changes. One of the best examples of one that did not work was #BringBackOurGirls. This movement, while well-intentioned, fizzled out after a short period of time and the problem it tried to address still exists.
Voting is important in a democracy; only around 40% of Indiana’s electorate voted the people who enacted the RFRA into office.
There are other movements like this that have had some major success. The Ice Bucket Challenge raised millions of dollars for ALS. In the early ‘90s, Arizona voted not to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, and as in Indiana, major public and corporate outcry, including the NFL moving the Super Bowl from Arizona to California, resulted in the law being changed. In Indiana the same public and corporate outcry is happening which is making people reevaluate the actions that have been taken. This shows why voting is important in a democracy; only around 40% of Indiana’s electorate voted the people who enacted the RFRA into office.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
If companies or governments do things that people find morally offensive, the people can take action to help out a group of people by means of public demonstration and peaceful resistance, just as talked about by Thoreau or King—“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
If we can come together, even just a few of us, to fight inequality, not just as GLBT persons, or African Americans, or as people with disabilities, but as a whole, the minority would then become the majority, and our demands would have to be heard.
The RFRA reminds us that many discriminatory practices and other injustices unfortunately happen all the time. If we can come together, even just a few of us, to fight inequality, not just as GLBT persons, or African Americans, or as people with disabilities, but as a whole, the minority would then become the majority, and our demands would have to be heard. It is important to stop seeing these civil rights movements as individual causes, and start working together for the rights of all humankind.
Founder of Jason’s Connection – an online resource for those with disabilities, mental health, aging and other needs. Jason was awarded an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Jason is also a Project Coordinator and Research Associate at the Burton Blatt Institute, an international think tank for Disability Rights and Human Justice at Syracuse University. He regularly contributes to the blog in his own series called Jason’s View and travels the country consulting and speaking about disability issues and rights. To read more from Jason Harris, read Jason's View.