In a move that would set the LGBTQ rights movement back decades, Indiana Governor Mike Pence is set to sign into law the Religious Freedom Bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers.
This is the second attack on the LGBTQ community by Pence and his socially conservative lawmakers. As reported by CNN, the Governor tried in 2014 to ban same-sex marriages by amending the state’s Constitution, but was defeated by “a highly-organized coalition of Democrats,” traditional right leaning business organizations, and “fiscally focused supporters” of the former administration under Gov. Mitch Daniels.
This time, though, the cards are stacked against the LGBTQ rights movement.
The Republican dominated House and Senate approved the “religious freedom” bill, and Gov. Pence will sign it into law Thursday during a private ceremony.
In a statement regarding the controversial bill, Governor Pence was quoted as saying the following.
“The legislation, SB 101, is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact… I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue. I look forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk.”
The bill is modeled after a 22-year-old law known as the Religious Freedoms and Restoration Act, the same law which allows businesses with religious objections to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers must cover certain services, such as contraceptives for women.
The Indianapolis Star reports that an amendment was proposed last week by a House committee that would shield employers from lawsuits brought about from the Religious Freedom Bill legislation, while Republicans in both chambers were busy rejecting Democratic attempts to include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Throughout the bill’s creation, there have been legal and religious advisers that have expressed concern over the potential of sexual orientation discrimination, with both sides invoking the Bible as a means of guidance. Legal masterminds have voiced their concern over the legal impact the bill has, while religious leaders remain divided.
Many have come out en force against the Religious Freedom bill, including several prominent local businesses, including Salesforce, Cummins, and Eskenazi Health, citing fears that the bill will encourage discrimination and ruin Indiana’s reputation as being a “welcoming state.” Even the widely popular Gen Con is threatening to move its hugely successful convention if the Governor signs the bill into law, yet to no avail.
No matter who is in office, what bill has become law, or what social norm is meant to be followed, human beings love whom they love and nothing can change that. As reported by the Inquisitr, Frank Gray and Ada Hatch, who reside in Canada, married after being apart for 68 years. The lovebirds were separated early on by a misunderstanding, but kept in contact throughout the years, and after spouses had long past, the two reunited.
Allowing discrimination of any form becomes a slippery slope of what can or should be allowed, and who is best to judge? Only time will tell what kind of Pandora’s box of misrepresented rights the Religious Freedoms Bill has opened by becoming law.