Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) said the religious freedom legislation that he signed in private needs “clarification” and a “fix” after outrage and protests erupt over “perception” that the LGBT community could face discrimination. Never mind the fact that Gov. Pence got support on the bill from three homophobic men.
He said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not a license to discriminate. He called on the general assembly to send him a bill this week with language fixing the “perception” problem the law he signed has.
Pence said (with a straight face) that Indiana has passed a law that mirrors federal legislation the former president Bill Clinton signed and also mirrors that of other states. He also said then-senator Barack Obama supported the legislation in Congress, which had broad bipartisan support. The fact is he’s wrong. Both men didn’t support the same kind of legislation on the federal level.
He blamed some in the media for “reckless” reporting of the law, but meanwhile he was flanked by anti-gay folks in a previous picture. Pence said he was hurt by the media’s portrayal of the law, which has hurt Indiana. Pence said there is a “gross mischaracterization” of the law and “reckless” reporting in the first few days fueled the outrage.
Well, Gov. Pence is missing the point either deliberately or ignorantly….
The governor’s talking points ignore the fact that his law has language that is not contained in the federal RFRA. For example, the Indiana act defines a “person” as including a “limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society and a joint-stock company.” What that does is effectively grants companies a right to use religion as the basis for their actions.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said during his press briefing on Tuesday, “It leaves open the question of what sort of religious views a joint stock company would hold, but that may be something for lawyers to ponder.”
Further, the federal RFRA says that a person whose religious exercise has been burdened “may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government.” The Indiana RFRA goes a step further, adding that a person (which could be a company), may use religion as a claim or defense in a proceeding “regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”
So, what this all means is that a company can cite religion in a private lawsuit. If a bakery refuses to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because they disagree with their sexual orientation on the basis of religion, they could invoke the Indiana RFRA. That’s what Mike Pence and all the supporters of this bill are deliberately ignoring. So, going a step further…what’s next? Discriminating against blacks and Hispanics on the basis of religion?