Oops. Somebody Didn't See That Coming - By Josh Marshall
Did the State of Indiana have any idea what it was getting itself into? Reading the history of this particular law, the relatively quiet progress of the legislation, followed by the avalanche of criticism and boycotts, the answer seems almost certainly to be no. There's now even a backdraft of commentary that the criticism and boycotts are somehow hypocritical since 19 other states and the federal government have similar laws. And the state's hapless Gov. Mike Pence is claiming that Barack Obama voted for a similar law when he was in the Illinois state legislature. Indeed, Pence now says he will push for a new law to "clarify" the law that's gotten his state in all this trouble.
But all of this seems to miss the point. There are tipping point moments in which things that were once uncontroversial or unpunished suddenly become very controversial and bring in their wake a storm of backlash. What's most interesting is how these changes are often not incremental. They build slowly and then suddenly the terms are entirely different. It's not surprising that something like this would eventually happen. But just why it happened in this case and in this way is less than clear.
The fact that other states have so called "religious freedom restoration acts" is at best misleading. The movement to push these laws goes back at least two decades. But until quite recently they were not specifically, almost exclusively, focused on gays and lesbians. Two things have changed. In the last eighteen months, social conservatives have recognized that they've lost the public battle over gay rights. Marriage equality will almost certainly be the law of the land nationwide in the near future. And the rulings that set the stage for that change will likely knock down all remaining legally sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians in the coming years. So social conservatives have retreated to a defensive action of accepting legally sanctioned equality but trying to create a carve out of discrimination under the guise of 'religious liberty.' The second thing is Hobby Lobby and that the signal that the Supreme Court will accept a concept of religious liberty far more expansive than anything seen in the past.
But we don't need to look at RFRAs. Don't we go through this story almost every year in which some red or reddish state pushes through some anti-gay rights law? This happens every year like spring follows winter. But this time something is different. Yes, there have been boycotts before. In Indiana itself, business groups wary of bad publicity and boycotts played a role in beating back another effort to ban same sex marriages. But here you have a flood of proactive statements by different companies saying they'll shun the state. That seems to have created something of a rush to the exits (or entrances?) with various organizations which a few years ago likely wouldn't have touched this kind of controversy signing themselves up for the effort.
Now Gov. Pence is reduced to lamely complaining that his and the legislatures efforts have been misunderstood or distorted. "I just cant account for the hostility thats been directed at our state, Pence told the Indianapolis Star. Ive been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill. He can't even manage the standard, conservatives in my state are being victimized by the axis of gays and liberals. He seems genuinely surprised.
In the past, states could pass these bills as sops to social conservatives with little penalty other than disapprobation from people they didn't care about anyway. But that seems to have changed.
"Please proceed, Governor"
things, like race, religion, size, etc.?
I'd love to find the answer. And how does one prove their discrimination springs from religion and not just plain old bigotry?
Most states have specific laws on the books that outlaw discrimination based on race, religion, sex, etc. Those laws are protected under the strong compelling governmental interest exception. What Indiana lacks versus say Connecticut, a state with a RFPA, is the law protecting sexual orientation and gender Identity. Connecticut has those laws, so the RFPA only serves to stop things like local governments making laws that ban religious expression, such as building code inspectors ticketing Jews celebrating Sukkot by making temporary shelters in their yards. In that instance, the temporary shelters are not subject to Certificate of Occupancy rules.
An easy workaround for a racist bigot is not to say that they are specifically discriminating against a person for race or gender. It is more clear cut for say a florist who doesn't want to make flowers for a gay wedding because they can verify the couple is gay. But what if a business owner wants to discriminate for behavior? Because the question of how to tell if someone is gay often comes down to behavior in their bigot minds. So why not extend the argument, which could be done quite easily. All of the following would easily offend some "Christians"
Mixed race couple
Two men eating dinner
Woman wearing a short skirt
Teenager wearing a heavy metal T-shirt
Family who doesn't pray before eating
Muslim woman with a headscarf
A menstuating woman
A woman with an uncovered head
All of these could potentially piss of a religious person and somehow translate to stepping on their religion. The Supreme Court with Hobby Lobby has said that an employee's insurance paying for birth control somehow steps on the religious rights of the employer. That slippery slope has created this law (they use the exact quote "least restrictive" . So where does the right of a religious person to be offended end?
Indiana lacks the protection in public accommodations for gays, which is why this law is seen as an attack on them. Other states have these laws, but discrimination in public accommodations is specifically banned. Most of your examples are clearly protected by law in other states.
accord with their religious beliefs. IMO they need to repeal or use specific language.
They cover stuff like no discrimination based on race, religion, sex, etc. These have long been upheld as a "compelling government interest".
It's this exception to the RFRA law:
Sec. 6. A state action, or an action taken by an individual based
23 on state action, may not substantially burden a person's right to
24 the exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a law or
25 policy of general applicability, unless the state or political
26 subdivision of the state demonstrates that applying the burden to
27 the person's exercise of religion is:
28 (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest;
30 (2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling
31 governmental interest.
What is lacking in IN is protection for gay and transgendered persons. That's why the law is anti-gay equality.
I can see where the bill wasn't overtly designed as anti-gay, especially if it looks and sounds like RFRAs in other states. But without the explicit protection of LGBT people elsewhere in state law, the new Indiana legislation has a big loophole in it, which the Republicans and Pence clearly wanted to make sure stayed there, that allows for discrimination against LGBTs. Their refusal to fix that loophole was pretty explicit.
Those exist in the law to protect citizens against racial discrimination, sex discrimination... but in Indiana, not discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Republicans rebuffed efforts to include language in this law guaranteeing such protection, and even today Pence told the nation doing so is not on the agenda.
In Illinois there's a similar law, but they also have a law that will bite you if you decide you won't serve gays. Indiana not only has no such protection, the people who rammed this through refused to consider it, and back before people started noticing this explicitly trumpeted the ability under this law to engage in discrimination as a great virtue. They can walk this back only by repealing the law or recognizing the rights of gays with a new law. Everything else is bullshit, no matter how many times they say 20 or 30 other states have such laws or invoke the names Clinton and Obama.
There were plenty of assurances after Hobby Lobby that the law would only be specific to that case. But as Ginsburg said in her objection, that is far from true. I believe this will embolden the bigots and racists and cause a lot of anguish. Because not everyone has the means or the time to sue when they have been discriminated against, but bigots seem to have an endless fount of hate.
If a wedding cake business in Conn. refuses to serve a gay couple, that business person can be convicted and fined $250 or sent to jail for 30 days. This is of course how it should always work.
Will "christian" businesses require you to cite some passage in the bible before they're willing to deal with you? What about provocative clothing, can it be seen as anti-christian to wear certain types of clothing or omit some under garments such as a bra? Where does it stop? It doesn't, that's the problem with religion. It always is the problem and never the solution to anything.
It's intended to benefit corporations, but it's also red meat for the Christian supremacists.
As many other states do. If a pharmacist doesn't want to fill a prescription for birth control pills because of religious convictions, he doesn't have to. And it extends to many other health issues regarding women. And oh yes, employers who don't want to insure their female patients for a number of protections or procedures.
But who cares about women?
These 'religious freedom' bills are always pushed by right wing fundamentalists, are they not?
because there are actual Constitutional Amendments that prevent racial and religion as well as statutory creations of protected classes.
And that is the kicker, for all the bullshit that Pence and the rest of the lawmakers are throwing out there, this is specifically targeted at the LGBT community.
they discriminated. They can discriminate against anyone they think is gay.
Just saying that by law that is the only thing that they can discriminate on, at least in IN.
Indiana specifically excluded the LGBT community from protections against discrimination. One cannot discriminate against another when practicing their religion. I'm sure the language in these RFRA laws include protection from discrimination. Indiana's version is a gross misrepresentation of the original intent of the law and purposely designed to discriminate against the LGBT community.
The original law was written to protect Native Americans from being prosecuted for using peyote in their religious ceremonies. Wiki has an interesting page on its history.
You must not forget that republicans believe their own lies. When you see a state have thousands of more democratic voters in an election have more republicans win, the republicans actually believe that they won a majority. Or in the senate when the two California Senators represent more people that several republicans in small states combined.
Ive been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill.
The Disciples of Christ church, which is looking into moving its General Assembly to a different state, has its headquarters in Indianapolis.
the board. If you are a Democrat in Colorado, it is directly relevant what the Republican Governor of Indiana does and this should be pointed out over and over through the 2016 elections.
It cannot be said enough
I think it is so common that small changes to laws aren't recognized for their potential impact until someone, usually not a lawmaker, stands up and says "What will happen if this is enforced?"
I also think that this is the weasels way of making changes; small incremental wordings that won't be recognized as subterfuge until the court cases start appearing.
We've seen this recently at the Federal level with McCain and others admitting that they didn't "have time" to read the bill that authorized a cretin-level letter to be written from the Senate to another country.
At all levels of government most of our "representatives" are woefully outgunned by lobbyists and lawyers who naturally make their demands as obscure/opaque as possible. Except they let our "representatives" know that their kickbacks will be deposited on a yea/nay vote.
I, and others have proposed the idea that corporate bonuses be paid based on a long-term result basis. You know, if you were a CEO for XYZ for 10 years and they increased their profits by 16% then your bonus would be ties to this.
Now I'm thinking that all the congress-critters should get their base salary but everything else should be tied to how well the country did over the ten years since they voted on each bill. Complicated but I could program this in FORTRAN.
The flaw/fly in my ointment is that so much of the bribery and influence peddling is not done on the books. Can we get these people to report their special dispensations on their 1040's?
I never thought of tying Legislative income to general population results,, but this makes a lot of sense. Start with a lower base rate and peg bonus to the overall economic increase of society. Republicans oughta love this metric...it is how all executive payment should be benckmatked. That would change everything in Congress. Hurt us, you get hurt. Help us, you benefit. No-brainet.
IOW.. no one who counts is buying his bullshit. LOL
Mahalo Don Great piece from Josh M
all those boycotts will be directed there as well.
Will this new Religious Freedom law allow that to be practiced in Indiana. Gov. pence did say it guarantees religious freedom for ALL Hoosiers.
The eggs I normally buy over here in SW Ohio are produced in Indiana. So when I had to buy a couple dozen eggs for self and parents today, I read over the packages and found a brand that didn't come from Indiana instead.
That made it so Republicans can't act like their racism and prejudice is okay "at home".