GenCon Concerns

577957_10151339998003155_955137243_nGiven recent adjustments to Indiana law, I’m having some serious concerns about whether I can in good conscience continue to attend GenCon after honoring my commitments this year.

They’ve had a gay marriage ban on the books for ages — including one which could imprison same-sex couples for applying for a marriage license on the basis that they’ve “falsified” the application. This was only recently noticed by some blogs, and reported as if it was new. However, what was new is that they’ve added a law stating that anyone who “solemnizes” the marriage of a same-sex couple can face up to 180 days in prison, and a $1,000 fine.

“Solemnizing” is nothing to do with the state — it’s purely ceremony. So Indiana has just criminalized private religious practice — even for those denominations that have no problems with same-sex marriage.

I talk a lot about slacktivism, meaningless feel-good “support” and the tendency of geek progressives to hedge and hem and haw when the rubber meets the road, and their principles slam head-first into stuff they like or want to do. (“Orson Scott Card is a toxic asshole with virulent anti-gay positions, who heads up an organization that lobbies to strip civil rights from same-sex couples…. but, but, Ender’s Game is a cool SF movie that I want to see!”)

GenCon is a big deal — especially for those of us who do work in the tabletop games business. A decision to stop attending would have a major affect on our business.

Perhaps those of us who come in to Indiana every year and pump (according to recent figures) 25-30 million dollars to the Indianapolis economy should make it known how we feel about this. I know that I, for one, will be talking to GenCon, LLC and asking what, if anything, they can do. (I will, of course, wait until after the show — they’ve got enough on their plate right now.)

If you have similar concerns, I urge you to share this post, or post your own — Facebook, Twitter, Google+, what-have-you. Let the concern be heard.

5 Replies to “GenCon Concerns”

  1. Obviously, this is a major concern for me too, both as someone who’s just spent 18 months winning the freedom to marry in my home state AND as an active member of a denomination whose religious freedom is widely constrained from practicing marriages for every loving, committed couple.

    I would actually point to what the Unitarian Universalists did a few years ago when Arizona passed SB1070 after the org’s annual General Assembly had been booked in Phoenix. The whole convention was given an expressly action-based theme, culminating in an hours-long vigil of prayer and song outside one of Joe Arpaio’s inhumane detention centers. It was beautiful, in keeping with our values of action for the common good, and garnered a bunch of media attention.

    Boycotting or moving Gen Con would mainly hurt low-wage workers in the service and hospitality industries. It would be far better to look for ways to support the folks working to change Indiana law (they’re one of 10 states right now in which LGBT rights are building grassroots orgs for change) and highlight the ways in which our community can relate to the issues of freedom and justice.

  2. I totally get where you’re coming from. Speaking as a gay man living in Indianapolis, however, allow me to mention that there are many of us who thrive on the convention economy here. And trust me when I say that many of the LGBTQ community would be hit hard here by a drop in convention attendance.

    I fully agree with the voting-with-your-wallet principle. But it’s important to consider all angles, not just the well-publicised ones.

  3. Craig– Good point. Thanks.

    Based on comments like yours and Jess’, both here and elsewhere, I’m thinking that a more proactive and PR-friendly effort would work better than a boycott.

  4. Thanks for keeping an open mind about this subject. Boycotts definitely have a time and place, but, with so much of the world looking toward positive change (lawmakers included), it seems like this is a situation where a carrot is much more suitable than a stick.

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