Bigots Don’t Want Indiana RFRA Law Clarified

Faced with a massive backlash over the passage of their modified RFRA law (some of it based on serious hyperbole, as I’ve detailed before), Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana and some members of the legislature are considering amending it to specifically say that it would not allow discrimination by businesses against gay people. But the real anti-gay bigots don’t want that:

However, Micah Clark of the American Family Association’s Indiana chapter, who stood right behind Pence, along with several other Religious Right leaders, when he signed the bill into law and has quite a record of anti-gay activism, said today that he opposes any such clarification.

He told AFA President Tim Wildmon today that conservatives should call Pence and other state officials and demand that they oppose any effort to clarify that the law does not legalize discrimination: That could totally destroy this bill. (In Georgia, supporters of a similar bill also opposed a push to ensure that the legislation will not permit discrimination in business.)

Wildmon agreed, adding that the Indiana law is necessary to protect anti-gay business owners from “persecution.” The law’s critics, Wildmon claimed, are waging “spiritual warfare” against state officials.

I think that makes obvious what at least some people who supported the bill intended it to do (though as I’ve pointed out, that was already true in Indiana because they don’t have any protections against anti-gay discrimination). But if they do clarify the law in that way, that intent wouldn’t matter. If they add language to the bill that says it cannot be used to defend discrimination in hiring, housing or public accommodation for LGBT people, that would be legally decisive (though again, such discrimination is already completely legal in Indiana).

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  • Anne Fenwick

    They should force each business to clarify its position publicly with a sign in the window or something of that nature.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Ed, you forgot the scare quotes on “clarified.”

    In any case, I applaud those who, however I may disagree with them, stand up for truth in political labeling. Be proud, be loud! Make sure the world knows what your Party stands for so that others can see the Truth!

  • John Pieret

    such discrimination is already completely legal in Indiana

    Again, Ed, that is not completely true. A number of local governments, most notably Indianapolis, have enacted anti-discrimination laws that include protections for LGBT people. Indeed, one of the most vocal critics of the RFRA has been the Republican mayor of Indianapolis.

    Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has totally spilled the beans:

    We support such a clarification making clear RFRA does not impact non-religious goods or services.

    The government shouldn’t force religious businesses and churches to participate in wedding ceremonies contrary to their owners’ beliefs. … We want to be sure that the measure proposed by the governor isn’t used as a weapon to impose punishing fines on people like florist Barronelle Stutzman, bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, and wedding photographer Elaine Huguenin.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/family-research-council-supports-pences-clarification-of-rfra/

    In short, they want to be free of any anti-discrimination laws when it comes to providing services to SSMs, because, apparently, that involves providing “religious goods or services.”

  • raven

    The intent of the bill was clear and Mike Pence just lied about it.

    1. There was a private signing. He refused to identify by name the large crowd present. Pence has something to hide and he knows it.

    2. Most of the people with him were identified from the pictures. It was a scene just like the bar scene on Tattooine from Star Wars.

    It was the usual collection of fundie xian haters and bigots from organizations like the AFA. Which are listed by the SPLC as hate groups. There were also a lot of Catholics there including a gaggle of nuns.

  • busterggi

    Hold fast Indiana! The 16th century is right around the corner!

  • gshelley

    There has been a lot of coverage on this, but very little has explained why the Indiana law has got so much more negative attention than the laws in other states. Some people have claimed it is because those states already have non discrimination laws, so it can’t be used to refuse service, but I’d be surprised if that was the case for every one.

    Is there any information on how often service is refused for a same sex wedding, or even simply because the business doesn’t want to serve homosexuals? It seems the only time we hear of it is when this happens in a state with non discrimination laws, but I would assume it happens everywhere.

  • Alverant

    There’s a pizza place in Indiana that not only refuses to cater gay weddings but also non-christian weddings, but it says it’s not being discriminatory.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/04/backlash-is-swift-and-furious-after-indiana-pizza-restaurant-owner-brags-about-no-gays-policy/

    gshelley, the Indiana version is worse than the ones in other states in the sense it covers for-profit businesses. Since many of these laws have the same name people assume they’re they same law and they’re not.

  • Artor

    “It was a scene just like the bar scene on Tattooine from Star Wars.”

    You mean it was a wretched hive of scum and villainy, that’s now been overrun by militant religious fundamentalists? That sounds about right.

  • robertfaber

    “Praise Jesus! Now my diner doesn’t have to serve those Christ-killing Jews!”, said the woman from Mikey’s email.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    There has been a lot of coverage on this, but very little has explained why the Indiana law has got so much more negative attention than the laws in other states…

    Religious Freedom Law: Arkansas Bill Awaits Governor’s Decision After Indiana Outcry

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious and ironic if one of these new laws was used as the basis of a decision to overturn all such laws on grounds that they favour religion over non-religion?

  • scienceavenger

    It is telling that there has been so much discussion of what the law does not do, but extremely little from Governor Pence or any of its defenders as to what it does do. I’d love to see the answer to the question of why they passed the law in the first place. What is legal now that was not legal before? It’s empty to bitch and whine about being misrepresented if you refuse to make a clear statement of what your position actually is.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    There were also a lot of Catholics there including a gaggle of nuns.

    The nuns had their happy faces on for the photo. I find their presence at the signing rather sinister.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    @gshelley

    I think that it’s a combination of factors. As we get closer to equality, the attempts to push back against it become more obvious. This particular law goes further than the previous ones which makes it stand out. The timing makes the underlying purpose clear, where it was murkier with the earlier laws. As scienceavenger points out, the actual justification for the law is vague, making it suspect.

  • Alverant

    The only religious freedom law needed anywhere in the country should also be the next amendment to the U.S. Constitution with only 15 simple words stating – “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious beliefs or worship.” – As written by the father of the Constitution, James Madison, in 1789. –

  • Chiroptera

    Alverant, #14:

    My preferred Amendment would read, “Jesus Christ, you morons! Religious freedom doesn’t mean you get to pick and choose which laws you need to obey!”

  • eric13

    It seems pretty clear what the real intent of this law was: to try to subvert the local communities, like Indianapolis, that had passed non-discrimination ordinances that included protection for LGBT individuals.

  • marcus

    John Pieret IMO this is an excellent and succinct analysis. Even though it may have already been legal to discriminate against LGBT people in most of Indiana you can’t say that codifying that discrimination into state law doesn’t really change anything. It most certainly does. As you pointed out it decertifies city or county regulations calling for equality and it give an imprimatur of social and economic respectability to rank discrimination.

  • Chiroptera

    (though as I’ve pointed out, that was already true in Indiana because they don’t have any protections against anti-gay discrimination).

    Yes, but the goal is to eventually get them to add sexual orientation to their anti-discrimination laws. Part of the purpose of these “Fundamentalists Should Be Allowed to Pick and Choose Which Laws to Obey” laws is to pre-empt such a thing.

  • Trebuchet

    Pence has continued to say that the law is EXACTLY like the federal RFRA and the one in Illinois which he’s fond of pointing out Obama voted for. It’s not. And he knows that. He’s just lying.

    Meanwhile, the governor of Arkansas has flopped and decided not to sign that state’s law. Apparently due to pressure from Wal-Mart!

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious and ironic if one of these new laws was used as the basis of a decision to overturn all such laws on grounds that they favour religion over non-religion?

    It would be even funnier if it was used as the basis of a decision by a Pagan baker to refuse to serve a Christian client.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    If they add language to the bill that says it cannot be used to defend discrimination in hiring, housing or public accommodation for LGBT people, that would be legally decisive (though again, such discrimination is already completely legal in Indiana).

    So “clarifying” it would actually achieve the opposite of what the bill intended? Love it.

  • http://ahcuah.wordpress.com/ ahcuah

    According to Wikipedia, the following cities and counties in Indiana are affected, since they have gay-protection ordinances.

    Counties: Marion, Monroe, Tippecanoe.

    Cities: Bloomington, Evansville, Indianapolis, New Albany, South Bend, West Lafayette, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Michigan City, Terre Haute.

  • RickR

    We already know they hate the feds, but it’s interesting to see them work to subvert county and city anti-discrimination regulation. Apparently, The State is the only legitimate unit of government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eo.raptor.3 eoraptor

    scienceavenger @ 11

    The alleged justification is that several cites, and other local level, governments have adopted various anti-discrimination ordinances. These ordinances, however, differ slightly from place to place, and extend protections beyond what’s available under the state law. This can’t be allowed to happen, you see, because businesses would get all confused and teary, and be scared — trembling in their boots, really — about what they’re supposed to do about the oogity-boogity. So, the new law says no local jurisdiction can set anti-discrimination standards higher than the state standards. That way, business will prosper, and be battling one another at the state lines trying to relocate to Indiana, because of gawd.

    Oh, BTW, did I mention that Indiana has no state laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination? Not that the legislators had that in mind when they drafted this bill, no, no. Of course not.

  • marcus

    eoraptor @ 24 The problem is this bill doesn’t go far enough! Gayhomos should be required to identify themselves as deviants before any business transaction has even begun!

    Can you imagine the horror of an innocent florist or photographer who is caught unawares and finds themselves participating some kind of perverse, satanic nuptials? Terrifying!

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    @ 25 marcus

    This should work, it has before.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    Seriously, I like the idea that’s been floated of encouraging businesses to post their discriminatory policies at the entrance to their establishment. It is eminently fair.

    Back when I ran a small retail operation, I placed a rainbow sticker front and center. It was dog-whistle for “you will be treated properly here.”

  • marcus

    Kamaka Several folks in Indiana are creating and starting to display “We Serve Everyone” stickers.

    I think that if people are going to discriminate they should be required by law to list those that they discriminate against on the front door of their establishment. Why should decent people unwittingly suffer humiliation at the hands of bigots?

    (It would also give those of us who are allies and supporters of equality the opportunity to take our business elsewhere.)

  • howardhershey

    Just because that pizza joint owner has a sign that reads “No dogs, jews, or queers.” in his window, how dare anyone consider him a “bigot”. Neither he, nor Tony “not a bigot” Perkins, nor Mike “not a bigot” Pence have a bigoted bone in their body.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/04/backlash-is-swift-and-furious-after-indiana-pizza-restaurant-owner-brags-about-no-gays-policy/

  • raremomentsoflucidity

    @20 Raging Bee, “a decision by a Pagan baker to refuse to serve a Christian client.”

    Wouldn’t this be possible through ‘legal tests’ by courageous atheists, sponsored by a GoFundMe account, for instance? Talk about the law of unintended consequences, hmm? Hilarity ensues.