Thursday, April 02, 2015

Indiana breweries: "Open to serving all people, assuming they are of legal age to drink."

This enriching personal testimonial explains the wider stakes of Indiana's ill-considered Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) better than I ever could -- and I've tried my best.

First, the lamentable backdrop.

The RFRA was overwhelmingly approved by Indiana's Republican "super majority" and signed into law as quickly as possible by Governor Mike Pence. Within nanoseconds, a tidal wave of social-media-driven revulsion seemingly from across the planet forced hasty and disingenuous backpedaling, and subsequently the law was amended to include safeguards against anti-LGBT discrimination (of course, this being the law's original and barely disguised intent).

However, note that as it pertains to discrimination in pre- and post-RFRA senses, Indiana's LGBT community as yet is entirely unprotected by state law. In Indiana, state law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), disability, age, ancestry and sealed or expunged arrest or conviction records.

Bizarrely, discrimination is prohibited on the basis of off-duty tobacco use.

Tobacco? Smoke 'em if you've got 'em, at least when you're not at work ... but LGBT? No protection. It's a situation that needs to be rectified, as soon as possible, lest the GOP's resident medievalists prompt another humiliation for our state.

Overall, it must be said that Indiana's business community responded well to this provocation. As noted by the correspondent Hinkle, roughly half of Indiana's breweries quickly posted "this business serves everyone" notices. The Brewers of Indiana Guild was a bit slower to issue a reply, but only because there was a scheduled meeting coming, anyway, and the topic was on the agenda.

Opinion at the meeting was unanimous, and I view our "we make many different beers for many different people" stance as vigorous and accurate.

This shouldn't have happened. If we remain focused, it won't happen again.


There are three things that I truly care about in life: my family, my job and beer.

Two years ago this Friday, my wife and I traveled to NYC to get (gay) married. We celebrated our legal marriage at The Pony Bar in Midtown, a craft beer bar with a stellar draft list and a reputation for being a hang out spot for the founders of Untappd. For our one-year anniversary we traveled to Three Floyds. During our visit we repeatedly commented on how happy we both were to marry someone equally obsessed with beer and returned home with a trunk full of bottles. This year, we are continuing the tradition by celebrating at Brew Kettle. We’ve already planned a visit to Belgium for year 25.

I’ve never felt Hoosier Hospitality more than when I sit in a brewpub. I’d go on to argue that breweries in general are some of the most welcoming and accepting businesses towards all communities, not just the LGBT community. Belly up at a bar, your sexual orientation, religious beliefs or political opinions mean little, so long as you’re a beer enthusiast willing to talk barley, yeast and hops until closing.

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