Christian Right Freaks Out About Indiana RFRA ‘Fix’

Christian Right Freaks Out About Indiana RFRA ‘Fix’ April 6, 2015

As I’ve pointed out, the “fix” or “clarification” that was appended to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act does virtually nothing of substance. It does not prevent anti-gay discrimination in the least. But the Christian right is absolutely losing their minds over it anyway.

“Nothing in this law would enable a small business to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of a public accommodation, goods, etc.,” said Americans for Truth About Homosexuality President Peter LaBarbera, reading in part from the proposed changes before they were signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Thursday evening.

“It looks like it would preclude a small business owner from using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” he said.

LaBarbera is really good at whipping up hysteria. Thinking, on the other hand, is well beyond his grasp. No, it does not preclude a small business owner from using RFRA, it just prevents them from using RFRA as a legal defense for discrimination. But since they never needed RFRA to discriminate against gay people anyway (except where there is a local anti-discrimination ordinance), they can continue to engage in such discrimination all they want. Nothing was ever stopping them from doing so in the first place.

“The actions taken by the Indiana General Assembly do not clarify our Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s purposes or goals. Our legal advisers tell us that it actually changes our law in a way that could now erode religious freedom across Indiana. If this revised law does not adequately protect religious liberty for all, it is not really a religious freedom act,” said AFA of Indiana Executive Director Micah Clark in a statement.

Then your legal advisers are either stupid or dishonest. As I’ve said a thousand times, it changes nothing in terms of anti-gay discrimination. And with or without this “clarification,” if a business owner had tried to use the law to defend any other form of discrimination (race, gender, religion, etc), the courts would never have allowed that. So again, it changes virtually nothing.

“Let’s take the example of the wedding cake baker,” he said. “They have a wedding cake. They sell wedding cakes to everybody, including homosexuals, but they don’t want to make, create or use their talents to create a gay marriage wedding cake. So if someone comes in and says, ‘I would like a gay marriage wedding cake,’ according to this language, they would not be able to deny that service.

“That’s the exact opposite of religious freedom,” he said, noting there would still be protections for houses of worship and nonprofit organizations.

Wrong. That baker can go right ahead and refuse to bake cakes for the wedding, just as they have always been able to do (unless there’s a local ordinance to the contrary — do I really need to keep adding that obvious caveat? Apparently I do) in Indiana. But keep freaking out about it all you want. I enjoy watching it.

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