Senator Theodore Bilbo, a Democrat from Mississippi was a racist as a matter of religious belief. He was fervent in his desire to prevent the races from mixing in any way, shape, or form. There “is every reason to believe that miscengenation and amalgamation are sins of man in direct defiance to the will of God,” he said.

Yet, following Senator Bilbo’s last race in 1946, which he won, the just elected Republican majority refused to seat him. Their justification included, among other things, their conviction that Bilbo incited violence against blacks who wanted to vote. Bilbo was not allowed the “reigious freedom” to practice his convictions because the shared belief among congressional leaders was that hatred and bigotry were unseemly, inappropriate to the position of the United States Congress.

Yet just this last week, in the name of “religious freedom” Indiana signed into law the right to refuse service, a thinly veiled attack on gays, lesbians and transgenders following marriage equality becoming law in that state in 2014.

We must unite in opposition to SB 101, signed by Governor Pence on March 26, 2015, a bill which allows business owners the right to refuse service to customers they disapprove of on the grounds of their religious belief – the same kind of religious belief that Senator Bilbo felt so keenly.

This kind of intolerance has no place in a healthy democracy. Please join me in standing strong against Indiana SB 101. It is wrong to refuse to serve people on the basis of their sexual orientation. To do so is a blatant disregard of the fundamental equality and human dignity of every person, LGBT or not. We are one humanity and it is up to us all to see that each is treated fairly and with respect.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

– Martin Niemöller (1892–1984),
Protestant pastor and outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler
who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.