“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes.”
So sayeth what is commonly referred to as the “commerce clause” of the United States Constitution. It’s a law so powerful that Wisconsin was forced to end it’s ban on double trailers after Consolidated Freightways sued, arguing that Wisconsin’s ban interfered with interstate commerce as protected by the “commerce clause” of the Constitution. The courts agreed, and Wisconsin had to open their roads to the double trailers that while legal in surrounding states, couldn’t cross Wisconsin.
The Commerce Clause has also been applied to civil rights in Heart of Atlanta Motel vs. United States, a case involving a motel located near two major Interstate Highways that refused to rent accommodation to black customers. The courts decided that because the motel was critical to interstate commerce, and it had to obey the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
So a whole half century later, Indiana’s bigots, in drag as religious fanatics, have the conservative legislature and governor falling all over themselves to pass a bill that they think will allow them to get even with all those gay folks that can finally enjoy the blessings of marriage. Yup, Indiana has officially authorized and pretty much encouraged any bigoted innkeeper to refuse a couple retired lesbian “snowbirds” headed south a room in the middle of a lake effect blizzard on Christmas eve. And being that Indiana is in the way if you’re trying to cross the top part of the country, those bigots are sitting pretty smug, figuring you’ll have a tough time boycotting them while they push their “values” into your life.
Now if you’re in the biz of transporting stuff, Indiana can be hard to avoid. For truckers and railroaders, the only alternatives between the major hub of Chicago and the east coast are way out of the way via the upper peninsula of Michigan or Kentucky. Same with the railroads, with the Indianapolis suburb of Beech Grove being home to a major Amtrak maintainence base. Even airfreight is affected, with much of the parcel volume going through UPS’s Louisville hub being trucked to and fro through Indiana. Thus those Indiana bigots figure we’re so dependent on them that they’re boycott proof.
Truck drivers, towboat crews, and train crews all need to stop for food and rest, in fact the rest is required by law and can’t always wait ’til you exit Indiana. And despite the Interstate and mainline rail routings you’d expect, a lot of trucking and railroading is done on or along two lane highways with nothing but small towns along the route in the middle of the night. If you’re in Indianapolis or on the Interstate there’s plenty of other restaurants and motels if one refuses you service, In Kentland, Plymouth, Vincennes, or North Vernon at 3 am your choices for food or a room are a lot more limited.
Some of Indiana’s bigots will no doubt take advantage of that local monopoly on late night rural food and rest, as backward restaurant and motel managers deny service to truck drivers, railroad crews, and the occasional airline or towboat crew that they perceive to be gay or otherwise in conflict with their prejudiced world view. Union stewards will be contacted, ultimatums will be issued, and if that doesn’t bring the bigots around the Teamsters, ALPA, UTU, UPS, Amtrak, CSX, NS, and a bunch of other progressive unions and transportation enterprises will be persuading the courts to throw Indiana’s “religious rights” law into the legal junkyard.
Add that to the growing boycott of Indiana- San Francisco has already put Indiana off limits to city employees on city business and others cities will follow- And the upcoming police convention and next year’s Work Truck Show will be poorly attended if they don’t move. And despite being lick split in the middle of the upper right part of the continent and within a days haul of a mere hundred million people or so, nobody is going to expand or build a new transportation hub in Indiana while this stupid law is on the books.
Indiana, you shouldn’t a gone there!