Recently, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act into legislation. Since then, the backlash has grown against this act and specifically, the implications it could have on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
The act gives any individual or corporation the right to use their religious beliefs as a defense to a private party lawsuit. Many believe that this may pave the way for discrimination against same-sex couples. One example frequently used has been the restaurant owner who doesn't want to serve a same-sex couple and is now protected by law to discriminate against them.
So while Governor Pence did sign the bill, he has since made his thoughts on the matter clear. He said that if the bill was about legalizing discrimination, he would have opposed it. Furthermore, he informed Indiana that the law does not give anyone a license to discriminate. Governor Pence is asking state legislature to correct the bill and clarify that businesses cannot use it to deny services to same-sex couples.
Why is Indiana facing such criticism for passing the bill?
When Attorney Erin Ehrlich joined Lou Dobbs on his Fox Business segment, she pointed out that Indiana's statute is comparable to similar laws in other states. Lou Dobbs then asked the question – why is Indiana the target of such animosity?
Attorney Ehrlich referenced a decision made under the Clinton Administration, which states that there cannot be a law which substantially burdens the public interest. But Indiana's bill prompts people to ask, is freedom of religion under the First Amendment superior, or is public accommodation?
According to Attorney Ehrlich, Indiana's bill itself is not discriminatory, but the impact it has will be discriminatory. Essentially, anger and disapproval is stirring amongst the general public and because Indiana's law is the most recent, it has become the natural target.