‘Leave Indiana’s Civil Rights Law Alone,’ Says Conservative Activist Patrick Mangan
In response to last year’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act—which sparked coast-to-coast controversy over whether or not the bill allowed discrimination against the LGBT community—the current session has legislators debating whether or not sexual orientation and gender identity should be added to the state’s Civil Rights Law.
As it stands now, the law only guarantees equal opportunity based on race, religion, sex, disability, national origin, or ancestry. Yesterday, the Senate advanced SB 344, a bill that would repeal RFRA, provide civil-rights protections based on sexual orientation—but not gender identity—and include some exceptions for religious objectors.
And that’s how Patrick Mangan, a preacher and the president of South Bend–based Citizens for Community Values of Indiana, thinks it should remain.
Why don’t you want LGBT protections added to the state’s Civil Rights Law?
The main problem with this [legislation] is that it’s creating legal tension between legitimate constitutional and human rights versus behavior-based groups that want to achieve a special status in the law—in fact, a superior status in the law to derive special rights. That’s what any attempt to elevate a behavior-based identity like homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, cross-dressing, or anything like that will do. It’s ludicrous. It’s unintelligible. It’s unconstitutional. It’s unenforceable. And it’s really emotion-based public policy.
[The basis for protecting any group under the Civil Rights Law] is because the class is suspected of being discriminated against. It’s basically four-fold. One, the thing that unifies or creates that class is immutable. It’s unchangeable. It’s not something that you have today and don’t have tomorrow. Two, you have to demonstrate exclusion from educational opportunity. Three, you have to demonstrate exclusion from economic opportunity. Four, you have to demonstrate exclusion from political opportunity.
If you come back to homosexuality—number one, it’s changeable by the whim of the person. If you look at the next three, every homosexual activist worth their salt, the first thing they say is— LGBT people have a higher degree of education and average attainment of a master’s, higher disposable income—that’s why you should create all these homosexual-friendly business policies. We know from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that 1.6 percent is the actual number of people who consider themselves [gay or lesbian] in America, yet they have a political megaphone probably 20 times their legitimate size as a tiny, micro-minority.
You can’t say you’re excluded and you super-achieve at the same time. One of those two statements is not true. Logically, it doesn’t make sense. That’s why there hasn’t been any major change in Civil Rights Law nationally—it doesn’t fit.
How did you get involved in LGBT issues?
I taught campus ministries at the University of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt University. If you’re going to be involved in campus ministry, you have got to be prepared to understand, articulate, and have a consistent position on sexuality because it’s a major issue with young people, especially as the culture changes. But the religious values and the timeless faith values don’t.
I’ve encountered people struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction and wanting help to successfully overcome that and to come to a place of sexual wholeness and totally living in the identity of their birth, which is male or female. One of the things I found throughout the process is this whole issue is not the way activists portray it. My experience of this issue has been very different from what is expressed often in the media and often by the advocates of this abhorrent sexual lifestyle.
What have you experienced?
I discovered there were people who struggled with this, but their struggle wasn’t based on the fact that a preacher said this is a sin or that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin—it was a much deeper struggle inside them personally.
Homosexuality and the LGBT agenda have this sort of public relations to them like it’s like Will & Grace. It’s not at all like that. This is often a very dark, very lonely, and very psychologically tortured existence. In fact, if you listen long enough, most homosexual activists will tell you, “Who would ever choose this?”
What is your organization, Citizens for Community Values of Indiana, doing this session to advocate your stance?
Right now, we’re actively engaged. We’re communicating with everyone in the legislature to encourage them not to abandon the traditional values that make the Heartland what it is and that attract families and entrepreneurs to come to a place like Indiana. I think we should mistrust those who bully the state into taking on values that are not our values.
Citizens for Community Values of Indiana is a non-profit, educational organization that promotes the values of Judeo-Christian ethics and works on some of the toughest issues—the porn and sex industry, homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex, and marriage law. All of the issues are at the core of a lot of the problems we’re working on today. We do education about the harms, look at solutions, and provide assistance. We are directly engaged in the public question. We’ve actually sent open letters to the governor and to every member of the House and Senate.
A recent poll found 55 percent of Hoosiers support adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the law. Thoughts?
You can get people to go along with almost anything depending on how you ask the question.
If you ask people, “Do you think we should treat everybody fairly?” They’ll say, “yes.” If you say, “Do you think we should have 58 gender identities and try to match bathrooms to that?” They’d say, “Of course not.”
What’s happening is that people like the idea of this being a fairness issue. No, it’s not a fairness issue. It’s a right-and-wrong issue. If homosexuality is right, we should promote it everywhere. Teach our kids that. But if it’s wrong, we should lovingly oppose it. We should restrict it. We should oppose it being taught to our kids. It’s not about what’s fair. It’s about what’s right. It will never be fair to impose what is wrong on other people. It will never be fair—even to the people themselves.
What do you think about the proposed “compromise” bills that would grant some LGBT rights but also allow for religious liberty?
I suspect the legislature would like to be able to do something in the middle. That’s what the RFRA “fix” was. But that made everybody angry because we either have religious freedom or we don’t, or we recognize that homosexuality is legitimate or we don’t. And the majority of us in Indiana don’t believe it will ever be legitimate.
The other side hates this, too. They don’t ever want there to be conscientious objection because they know everybody would use it. They know that if they allow conscientious objection, we’re right where we are now, which is what the constitution does allow. We don’t need a law. You can’t force me to say homosexuality is okay. What the legislature in Indiana is trying to wrestle with is the question of, “Is there a way to make both happy?” And the truth is—there’s not. It’s not an un-noble thing to try, but it’s always a zero-sum game. One wins, and one loses.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Read an opposing viewpoint from GOP strategist Megan Robertson.