Pence Makes Indiana the 20th State to Have a Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Indiana State House (photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

On Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Tom Davies of the Associated Press writes:

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which easily passed both legislative chambers, would prohibit state and local laws that “substantially burden” the ability of people, businesses and associations to follow their religious beliefs.

A similar law was passed by Congress in 1993. Similar proposals have been introduced in about a dozen states in the wake of businesses and individuals being taken to court for not wanting to provide insurance for abortion-inducing products or servicing same-sex wedding activities out of religious beliefs.

Mr. Pence said this week he believed the measure “is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact.”

The law was immediately denounced by the Human Rights Campaign who labeled it as “dangerous” and “anti-LGBT.” However, even the Associated Press can see through that claim:

Supporters say discrimination concerns are overblown because the bill is modeled after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and 19 states have similar laws on the books.

However, the current political climate is far different than it was when most of those were approved because the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this year on whether gay marriage bans violate the Constitution.

Conservative groups say the Indiana measure merely seeks to prevent the government from compelling people to provide such things as catering or photography for same-sex weddings or other activities they find objectionable on religious grounds.

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