Thunderbird owner Joshua Gonzales' letter to RFRA author and Mister Ice VP of Sales Scott Schneider 

click to enlarge Thunderbird is #openforservice
  • Thunderbird is #openforservice
Mr. Schneider,


I would like to thank your staff for always providing me with speedy service when there was an issue with our Kold Draft unit. They always responded promptly and efficiently. The Kold Draft machines are touchy and the service techs did a great job of maintaining our unit.

However, your part in the drafting of SB101 has caused me great concern. My history prior to becoming a restaurant owner was steeped in world of politics. I had the privilege of working in the Daniels' administration, I campaigned for the great Senator Lugar, and I worked to help Carlos May challenge Andre Carson in the 7th District. I respected these leaders for their commitment to making our state and our city better places. Daniels and Lugar were leaders that looked forward. They were leaders that understood the value of inclusion and they were responsible for putting Hoosiers on a path of progress.


Progress, in case you are wondering, means moving towards a goal or state of being that is higher and more beneficial than a previous stage. I've lived in Indianapolis for almost eleven years and I can say with great pride that our city has progressed during that time. The growth of the IUPUI campus, the completion of the Cultural Trail, the building of Lucas Oil Stadium, the redevelopment of Mass Ave, the Super Bowl, the Lawn at the White River State Park, DigIN, and the explosion of our food and beverage scene are all examples of progress. These are all examples of Hoosiers coming together to make something better than what was there before.

Which leads me to SB101. No matter how it's packaged, SB101 is not about progress. It's about regression. It's about fear. It's about looking back to an ideal that never really existed. It's not about protecting minority rights; it's about withholding them. It's about excluding a group of people that just want to live their lives like the rest of us. It's about denying equality. Folks like Eric Miller and Micah Clark have made this very clear. In fact, Governor Pence also made this clear during his congressional campaign in 2000. For these individuals equality is not in the cards for our LGBT community. This is an ideology that I cannot support.

As a business owner in Fountain Square, I take great pride in the diversity of our neighborhood. Fountain Square is a testament to our city's ability to accept all no matter the race, sexual orientation, or creative expression of a particular individual. As a resident of Fountain Square, I can attest to our neighborhoods commitment to growth through inclusion. We are a group of people that see the potential in our little corner of the city; People that believe in progress.

Because of my strong belief in progress, equality, and inclusion, it is without hesitation that I must break my lease with your business. The reputation of our great city and state are at stake because of a law that was drafted by a legislature that is grossly out of touch with Hoosier values. As a member of the hospitality industry, it is my job to welcome everyone that walks through the doors of Thunderbird, and I believe that our elected officials should want the same thing for all citizens of Indiana. As a minority I cannot sit by and watch another group of people fall victim to marginalization. Finally, as a human being I cannot support the notion that there is something wrong with two people of the same sex loving each other. Life is hard enough. Why should we draft laws limit people's joy?

In closing, I would like to ask you to do something. As a member of our legislature, you have the opportunity to lead. You have the opportunity to steer Indiana down the path of progress. Will you do the right thing and amend the RFRA bill to include equal rights for ALL Hoosiers, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity? I have no objection to you wanting to keep government out of the religious beliefs many of us hold so dear. However, you must make sure the law does what the American government was meant to do: protect the individual by ensuring justice for all. Remember, you represent them. All of them.



Joshua Gonzales
Thunderbird

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Sarah Murrell

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