The news has been filled with stories of the backlash to Indiana’s newly-signed anti-LGBT license to discriminate law. Companies and organisations are curtailing their business with the state, something that may gain momentum. That’s not good enough.
As I’ve said many times already, I fully support the right of people to withhold their money from businesses—or entire states—because of ideological reasons. This isn’t a Left v. Right thing, either: Both are equally entitled to boycott.
However, boycotts will do little to help the LGBT people of Indiana beyond helping to draw attention to the license to discriminate law. That might help discourage similar laws in other states, but it won’t do much to gain a repeal of the law and it will cause a (quite possibly ineffective) backlash.
Moreover, there are proudly LGBT-owned businesses in Indiana and proudly-LGBT supportive straight-owned business in the state that could suffer from a broad-brush boycott. While I’m all for punishing the bad guys, these folks clearly are not them.
I think we need to more a more targeted approach.
Sure conventions should stay away (they make a big point by doing so), and tourists should, too. But people who must travel to the state for whatever reason should seek out LGBT-owned businesses and those allied with the LGBT people of Indiana. For many people, it may seem too hard to ask business whether they support Senate Bill 101, and with luck there will eventually be some sort of listing of non-bigoted business to give one’s business to [Update: Open For Service is working on such a directory]. That list will grow as more business owners gain the courage to stand up to bigotry.
In the meantime, there’s an easy way to help the LGBT people of Indiana: Give money to the groups that can help. There are national groups, of course—many of them—and they may sometimes do thing specifically for Indiana. But to be sure it gets to the people who can use the support, I say, give local.
Below, listed in alphabetical order, are a few organisations based in Indiana that do good things for the LGBT people of Indiana, along with descriptions of what they do taken from their websites. It’s not an exhaustive list, so feel free to share others in the comments. Check them out. Ask them questions. Then, give them money. The LGBT people of Indiana need support right now more than they need promises to never visit the state. Be the change we seek: DONATE!
ACLU of Indiana: “…The ACLU of Indiana… is a statewide affiliate of the ACLU headquartered in New York… We bring cases against government entities to protect the rights of individuals and groups. The ACLU of Indiana is nonpartisan and does not endorse political candidates. A nonprofit membership organization, we do not receive public funds, tax dollars or government support. Our strength comes from more than 4,000 supporters whose tax-deductible donations fund our free legal services and educational outreach, and whose annual membership dues support advocacy, organizing and lobbying activities to promote civil liberties.” Like all ACLU affiliates, they do advocacy work on behalf of LGBT people, as highlighted on their website.
Indiana Equality Action: “Indiana Equality Action (IE Action), a 501(c)(4) organization, is a coalition of statewide and regional organizations. IE Action focuses on amending Indiana’s Civil Rights law to protect against discrimination based on either sexual orientation or gender identity, securing bias crimes protections, and keeping Indiana’s Marriage Discrimination Amendment at bay. IE Action is a lobbying and advocacy organization.”
Indiana Youth Group: “Indiana Youth Group (IYG) provides safe places and confidential environments where self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth are empowered through programs, support services, social and leadership opportunities and community service. IYG advocates on their behalf in schools, in the community and through family support services.”
PFLAG Indianapolis: “…While support for families and LGBT persons remains our primary goal, advocacy is becoming more important in today's world. PFLAG works with the Indiana Youth Group to staff booths at conferences for teachers, school counselors, and social workers. We hand out packets of information to help make schools safer for LGBT youth.”
Special Tip o’ The Hat to Tom, the Ramble Redhead, for advice on groups in his state of Indiana.