Proposed ‘Clarification’ Language for Indiana RFRA

Proposed ‘Clarification’ Language for Indiana RFRA April 2, 2015

So the Republican leadership in the Indiana State Assembly has released its proposed language for the “clarification” that Gov. Mike Pence requested to try to quell the controversy over the new RFRA law passed last week. Here’s the full relevant language:

This chapter does not: (1) authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service;

(2) establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution for refusal by a provider to offer orprovide services,facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service; or (3) negate any rights available under the Constitution of the State of Indiana.[…]

As used in this chapter, “provider” means one (1) or more individuals, partnerships, associations, organizations, limited liability companies, corporations, and other organized groups of persons. The term does not include: (1) A church or other nonprofit religious organization or society, including an affiliated school, that is exempt from federal income taxation under 26 U.S.C. 501(a), as amended (excluding any activity that generates unrelated business taxable income (as defined in 26 U.S.C. 512, as amended)). (2) A rabbi, priest, preacher, minister, pastor, or designee of a church or other nonprofit religious organization or society when the individual is engaged in a religious or affiliated educational function of the church or other nonprofit religious organization or society.

Sounds fancy and legal and all, but it’s mostly bullshit. It does nothing whatsoever to protect against anti-gay discrimination. All it says is that THIS law can’t be used to excuse or defend discrimination, but since anti-gay discrimination is already perfectly legal in that state and always has been, it will continue to be legal. Businesses did not need RFRA to discriminate against gay people in the first place, so declaring that this new law can’t be used to provide a defense that they never needed is pure political theater.

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