Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law Revised To Prevent Discrimination

Indiana’s religious freedom law remains a point of heated controversy. However, lawmakers have agreed to revise the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to prevent discrimination against homosexuals and same-sex couples.

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence on March 26. As outlined by the Indiana General Assembly, the new law “prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.”

As reported by the Federalist, supporters of the controversial law argue that “RFRA is a shield, not a sword.” Essentially, the law is meant to protect companies, corporations, and individuals from administrative action and lawsuits stemming from religious belief.

Supporters of Indiana’s religious freedom law contend it can not and will not be used to promote discrimination. However, critics disagree.

Those who oppose the law are concerned that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act will allow business owners to refuse services to homosexuals and gay couples — without the threat of prosecution.

Amid the ongoing controversy and subsequent backlash, Indiana lawmakers have agreed to revise Indiana’s religious freedom law to prevent discrimination against homosexuals and same-sex couples.

As reported by IndyStar, former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson confirmed the phrases “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” will be included in the revised RFRA. According to reports, the revised Religious Freedom Restoration Act specifies that businesses and individuals are prohibited from discriminating against anyone based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Despite the planned revision, the RFRA remains a point of heated controversy.

American Family Association of Indiana spokesperson Micha Clark is strongly opposed to the revision.

“… the Indiana Senate is considering ‘water-down’ language to the recently passed and pro-religious-liberty bill, Religious Freedom Restoration Act… Homosexual activists are demanding Christian business owners in Indiana be forced to compromise their faith.”

Others have argued that the revision is not enough. Freedom Indiana campaign manager Katie Blair explains as follows.

“We understand that lawmakers are working to ‘fix’ the Indiana RFRA that has done so much harm to Indiana over the past week, but we want to make it clear that we need full protection from discrimination… and a guarantee that this RFRA cannot be used to undermine any nondiscrimination protections.”

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long confirmed the revision was presented to lawmakers on Thursday morning. However, the Senate has not announced a decision.

Unfortunately, Indiana’s religious freedom law is likely to remain a point of heated controversy and debate — despite any planned revisions.

[Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images]