Tags: Religion | indiana | gays | religious freedom | law

Indy Star to Gov. Pence: 'Fix' the Religious Objections Law 'Now'

Indy Star to Gov. Pence: 'Fix' the Religious Objections Law 'Now'
(Samantha Sais/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 31 March 2015 06:28 AM

The Indianapolis Star ran a blazing front-page editorial headlined — in bold letters — "Fix This Now" that called on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to urgently push for legislation to extend protected status to gays and lesbians.

The editorial reflected the firestorm surrounding the state's newly passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Pence, a possible Republican 2016 presidential candidate, signed the law last week after it was approved by the Republican-controlled legislature. Critics as well as some supporters have said the law could allow businesses to refuse to serve homosexuals on religious grounds.

Partly because of fears of a consumer boycott on the economic well-being of the state, Pence and legislative leaders recently pledged to amend the law to clarify that it did not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, The New York Times reported.

The act, which holds that Indiana may not "substantially burden a person's exercise of religious freedom" might, for instance, protect a religious photographer or baker from providing services for a gay wedding. While 30 other states and the federal government have religious freedom laws, many of them also recognize gays as a protected class while Indiana does not.

The Star editorial, addressed to Pence, focused on the economic impact of the law as well as on the state's reputation. Its passage had already "done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future," it said.

And, it continued, at stake was: "Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers."

The newspaper pressed Pence and the General Assembly to enact a law that would explicitly "prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity."

Such protections co-exist elsewhere with RFRA, the editorial argued, pointing to Indianapolis as an example. The Indianapolis protections have been in place for about 10 years and apply to businesses with more than six employees, while exempting religious and nonprofit organizations.

The paper said that the Indianapolis law ought to serve as a template for state law.

The editorial did not demand that RFRA be repealed, saying that the state's Republican politicians would find doing so "politically unacceptable." It acknowledged that "there are Hoosiers who support RFRA out of a genuine desire to protect religious freedom."

The editorial concluded: "Governor, Indiana is in a state of crisis. It is worse than you seem to understand. You must act with courage and wisdom. You must lead us forward now. You must ensure that all Hoosiers have strong protections against discrimination."

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The Indianapolis Star ran a blazing front-page editorial — "Fix This Now" — reflecting on the fallout from the state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act and calling on Gov. Mike Pence to push for legislation to extend protected status to gays and lesbians.
indiana, gays, religious freedom, law
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 06:28 AM
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