Freedom of Religion

Amendment to Indiana's RFRA Would Eliminate Discrimination Defense for Business Owners

Vendors who object to same-sex marriage could be forced to participate in gay weddings.

|

ABC News

Yesterday Indiana Gov. Mike Pence promised to seek legislation clarifying that his state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) "does not give anyone a license to deny services to gay and lesbian couples." The Indianapolis Star reports that a RFRA amendment Pence is floating says the law "does not authorize a provider—including businesses or individuals—to refuse to offer or provide its services, facilities, goods, or public accommodation to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity." More precisely, the amendment "would specify that the new religious freedom law cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation."

Assuming that gloss accurately reflects the wording of the bill, it would mean that business owners in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and South Bend—the three Indiana cities that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation—could not cite their religious objections to same-sex marriage as a defense against complaints prompted by their refusal to participate in gay weddings. Since Indiana does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, the new language would have no impact on the legality of such refusals elsewhere in the state. Critics of Indiana's RFRA therefore are demanding a statewide ban on such discrimination, which Pence opposes.

In an interview with the Star, Indiana University law professor Steve Sanders notes that the RFRA amendment as reported also would not apply to discrimination in housing or employment:

The prospect of gays and lesbians being denied service by merchants has been the emotional and symbolic center of this debate. But the debate has largely overlooked other activities covered by civil rights laws in various Indiana cities, namely employment and housing….What about employers who fire gays or lesbians for what they claim are religious reasons? Or landlords who refuse to rent to them? Or real estate agents who won't take them on as clients? If this legislative fix isn't broad enough to exempt all aspects of civil rights law from the RFRA, people in those lines of business would still be able to use RFRA as a shield against employment or housing discrimination claims.

According to the Star, the proposed amendment explicitly "exempts churches or other nonprofit religious organizations—including affiliated schools." That provision raises the same question as a similar exemption from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate: If religious objections make exceptions for organizations appropriate, why don't individuals, including business owners, deserve the same accommodation?

NEXT: Uncle Sam's Expanded Marijuana Menu

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If religious objections make exceptions for organizations appropriate, why don’t individuals, including business owners, deserve the same accommodation?

    Progressives want non-profit corporations to be recognized as BETTER than people.

    1. Because profit is a necessary evil, they will allow it with their conditions

  2. Associate OR ELSE!

  3. Bad discrimination will be outlawed, good discrimination will become mandatory. Right?

  4. Fine, here is your pageview.

  5. I can’t believe I’m longing for the days of endless Millenial polls.

    1. 9 out of 10 millennials agree

  6. Would it still compel a business owner to print signs, bake cakes, etc., for the Westboro Baptist Church?

    1. I’m sure you already know the answer to that.

        1. Bailey said in a prepared statement, “it’s a sad day when bigots have to be treated equally before the law.

          They should be treated unequally before the law?

          1. Surprisingly, many people think so.

            1. Is the Michigan Womyn’s music festival, which does not allow men or transgender women, and makes lesbian moms leave boy children at a camp across the road, bigoted? Should they be sued out of existence?

        2. You guys know that site is satire, right?

  7. Well at least we won’t have Mike Pence as a bottom tier presidential candidate now.

    1. He seems content being just a regular old bottom instead.

  8. I completely agree that the law might need clarification to prevent discrimination against individuals, but religious liberties should extend to ensuring that businesses will not have to financially support events or activities that violate the owners’ religious beliefs. Check out my article about how the free market has a solution to this: http://mkgilmour.com/2015/04/0…..-anything/

    1. MK Gilbour – that is no solution. Once property, taxes, contracts (marital or business), immigration, children etc. etc. are involved, the state must necessarily be part of the marriage process. Only if you repeal all laws that relate to marital status will this work.

  9. Mike Pence, you’re a pussy.

    1. Fucking Republicans are absolutely useless. How is it that every last one of them goes gutless upon achieving election?

      1. They have no philosophy.

  10. “It’s very simple – in three municipalities, you have to sell to gays whether or not you have religious objections, unless of course you’re a nonprofit corporation, in which case you can require that the government prove a compelling interest in forcing you to sell to gays, but they don’t have to prove a compelling interest if you’re operated for profit. AND…in the rest of the state, you don’t have to serve gays at all, whether you’re religious or not.

    “In this way, we show how deeply committed we are to…not getting boycotted. I mean, all we need to do is pass a “compromise” bill and get praised in the media, and the boycotters’ ADD attention spans will have gone on to some other subject before you read the fine print.”

    1. “Of course, my plan presupposes that the media and the boycotters are so deeply, deeply stupid as to see that they haven’t actually gotten what they want.

      “In other words, I think this is a sure thing.”

      1. as *not* to see

        1. “Wait, did I mention that on alternate Tuesdays it’s Mandatory Gay Pizza night in Indianapolis?”

          1. Is that sausage or anchovies?

    2. And your religious objections could still stand up if they compel you to discriminate based on race, sex, religion, disability, or national origin, in those municipalities or elsewhere in the state.

  11. “The prospect of gays and lesbians being denied service by merchants has been the emotional and symbolic center of this debate. “

    Because everyone knows that if it were *legal* to have racist opinions…..why, everyone would be racist.

    wait = is that *Not* a law?

  12. This should be a lesson to Libertarians on how to get what you want politically. Accuse those on the other side of an issue of bigotry, regardless of their motivation, and advance the most ridiculous out of left field hypotheticals as being the inevitable consequence of whatever policy they’re advocating. Your opponent will fold like a cheap suit, especially if they’re Republicans.

    Arguing based on the merits is so passe.

    1. “OMG you commie Democ-Rats are against religious freedom, I bet you want to massacre nuns like the French Revolution.

      “If you’re not a French nun-killer, you will support our side! You’re not a French nun-killer, are you?”

      1. “Wait, what? You’ve got French nuns that need killing? I’m your man, er, tranny.”

        /prog OFF

        1. It really happened

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D…..Carmelites

          1. “At the foot of the scaffold, quite spontaneously, Sister Constance the novice nun started singing ? not the Salve Regina of Poulenc’s opera, but Psalm 117, Laudate dominum omnes gentes. The psalm proclaimed the mystic truth of God’s mercy being at the centre of all things. “God have mercy” was the central sentiment behind Sister Constance’s choice. The psalm tune was taken up and carried forward by the other sisters….

            “Prioress Madame Lidoine was last to climb the scaffold. When her singing voice stopped there was silence. Usually there would be drum rolls and the crowds would erupt into disorderly cheers, but on this occasion they dispersed quietly. The dismembered bodies of the Compi?gne sisters were thrown into a sand-pit in a cemetery at Picpus. Their remains are now lost.”

            http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/c…..ncs-opera/

    2. That is not the strategy on open borders?

      1. Yes yes it is. And it was the strategy on gay marriage too.

        1. The left is the prime mover on both those issues. As irritating as their cosmotarian toadies are to us, they have essentially zero impact.

    3. This should be a lesson to Libertarians on how to get what you want politically. Accuse those on the other side of an issue of bigotry, regardless of their motivation, and advance the most ridiculous out of left field hypotheticals as being the inevitable consequence of whatever policy they’re advocating.

      Actually libertarians have tried that with the drug war, eminent domain abuse, school choice, etc. Whenever that tactic is used against the leftists they mock or ignore you and get away with it, because there’s a pervasively believed myth that the left is the advocate of all oppressed groups.

      1. No it’s because it’s perceived that anything perceived to be “right-wing” is somehow associated with racism. Which makes it impossible for anyone perceived to be “right-wing” to accuse anyone else of racism. There’s a giant guilt-by-association thing going on. You can’t be on the same side, on any issue, as someone who once used the term “welfare queen” without automatically being suspected of racism.

      2. So? Tell them you’re part of the “left” too, and they’ll have to take up those positions as well, because that’s what the “left” is about?like when suddenly wearing fur became evil, Mumia had to be freed, etc. And then join them in attacking the “right”, and there’s nobody left to oppose you, because the “right” quickly gives in.

    4. The bigotry argument only works for people on the left, for no particularly good reason.

      Ever since they managed to associate Hitler with the “right”, as if German politics has anything to do with American politics.

    5. But our opponents are bigots. They’ve been selling poor children of color to educrat cartels for decades for their second biggest source of campaign donations.

  13. All the freedom shit is messy…SJW

  14. What about employers who fire gays or lesbians for what they claim are religious reasons? Or landlords who refuse to rent to them? Or real estate agents who won’t take them on as clients? If this legislative fix isn’t broad enough to exempt all aspects of civil rights law from the RFRA, people in those lines of business would still be able to use RFRA as a shield against employment or housing discrimination claims.

    What about it? Is there any evidence any of this is actually occurring? All this would be would be an excuse for some SJW asshole to sue some little old lady who didn’t want to rent her garage apartment to a tranny hooker.

    It appears to me that gays have absolutely no respect for anyone’s rights but their own. Every day they make it harder and harder to give a fuck if anyone hates them.

    1. Not gays as a class, but certain gays who are active in favor of certain policies – along with straight allies.

      And even the make-us-cake faction is probably influenced by innumerable slights they got in life – including from parents.

      So it shouldn’t be a question of hate, but of – gasp – disagreeing with certain political viewpoints.

      1. The gay political class is part of the civil rights industry that makes money as lawyers, equal employment opportunity bureaucrats, teaching continuing education classes to licensed professions in fair housing law, acting as testers for nonprofits that sue firms and shake them down for settlements, etc etc.

        These laws should make it harder to have lesbian cruise lines like Olivia, gay bed and breakfasts like those listed at PurpleRoofs.com, and gay nursing homes and 55+ communities which some developers were just beginning to think about. Please sue all these gay enterprises and put them out of business. I’m a gay person asking you to do this. Most of the owners won’t deserve it, but the civil rights paradigm needs to be destroyed. If it helps look the owners up on OpenSecrets first and see if they donate to statists. I’m pretty sure the woman who owns Olivia donates to Obama and Hillary. Sue her. Why should her cruise be able to exclude men?

    2. Stop collectivizing already.

  15. would specify that the new religious freedom law cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation

    So, they are going to do it the stupid, non-content-neutral way, and set up an Establishment Clause challenge, because the state has gotten into the business of sorting religious beliefs that they will protect from religious beliefs they will prosecute.

    1. A church is a public accommodation. I don’t see how a church could refuse membership to a gay person under this rule or refuse to recognize a gay marriage.

      1. A church is a public accommodation.

        No. They don’t provide services.

      2. Public accomodation is a nonsense concept. If I start a business or any other organization and offer services to people I wish to associate with voluntarily for payment, fun or whatever, it’s private and it doesn’t belong to them and I don’t have to allow them to use my time or resources. Making me do so is Slavery.

    2. The beautiful thing is, as this is described, a business could refuse to service a Rastafarian wedding because the owner had a religious objection to splinter sects.

      But a business couldn’t refuse to service a gay wedding because the owner had a religious objection to gay weddings.

      See? The state, choosing (dare I say “establishing”) which religions/beliefs it will either protect or ignore, and which religions/beliefs it will prosecute.

      1. So what the Rastafarians in that case have to do is claim they have some weird sexual orient’n that’s the actual objection the business had. Like maybe bestiality or pedophilia.

    3. I don’t know that it’s the stupid way, if it ultimately results in the amendment being thrown out by SCOTUS.

      That actually strikes me as rather clever.

  16. That provision raises the same question as a similar exemption from Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate: If religious objections make exceptions for organizations appropriate, why don’t individuals, including business owners, deserve the same accommodation?

    Because a complete rollback of anti-private-discrim laws would be DOA politically. Every Reason writer nitpicking this point about the RFRA the past few days knows this, of course, but we can’t pass up an opportunity to bash conservatives I guess.

    Funny, I don’t remember any Reason writers complaining about medical marijuana legalization, even though it relied on a similarly unprincipled distinction between cancer patients and everyone else. And I can’t imagine Reason treating boycotts of Colorado and Washington due to their legalization of MJ with anything but contempt, yet today we see them reminding us that private boycotts aren’t coercive, while ignoring the coercive boycotts by Seattle and SF wielding tax dollars taken by force as a weapon against lawmakers in other states.

    1. What do you know? The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Unfortunately the petulant children are always on the side opposite liberty.

    2. Damnit man there’s cocktail parties on the line here. And everyone knows you don’t get into the good ones unless you send the right signals.

      1. Ya know what they call socially conservative libertarians?

        Paleo REPUBLICANS!

        1. Better a Republican than an irrelevant whiner.

    3. I may vacation in Indiana if I can find anything worth seeing there. And even patronize the new DC Chik Filet about to open in Columbia Heights, even though I don’t like their food.

  17. So is this what a growing libertarian moment looks like?

  18. Well, this got ugly fast

  19. What does this new language change?

    A Christian doesn’t refuse to provide cakes for a gay wedding because the customer is gay. They simply don’t want to participate in a gay wedding. If a straight person wanted to buy a cake for his gay cousin’s wedding, the Christian owner would still deny him service. He may similarly deny service to a mass polygamous weddings or a Klan rally.

    The willful ignorance on his issue is just astounding. It doesn’t substantially burden anyone’s religion to serve gays or gentiles. The breathless SJW crowd that conjures up images of Christian doctors allowing a gay patient to bleed to death is borderline mentally disabled.

    Again, forcing someone to participate in an event that find objectionable is oppression, in most cases.

    1. “They simply don’t want to participate in a gay wedding”

      Excellent point. What I think many SJWs don’t understand is that there’s a difference between disagreeing with what someone does and disliking who they are. And really, if you don’t make any distinction between what you do and who you are then that’s just sad.

    2. Baking a cake is not “participating” anymore than selling hot dogs at a baseball game is “participating” in the game.

      1. To you, in your mind. But not to the religious folk.

        Should I be required to sell my hot dogs to dog fights? Slave auctions? Brothels? Faith healers? Klan meetings? Anti-gay conversion therapy clinics? Ex-gay churches?

  20. So maybe I’m taking crazy pills but I kust saw the Charles Pierce Grantland where he calls put pence and describes the law as “essentially allowing businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians”. I literally thought, “And that’s wrong because…?”

    Not the discrimination I mean- that is objectionable. But the ability to do it should be legal. Another criticism was that pence failed to give an example of a business being harmed by catering to gays/lesbians. Why is harm a requirement?

    Look, I support gay marriage. But a business can refuse to do business with anyone , for any reason (I get that this is not the current legal regime, but it should be).

    This whole thing has made me hate everyone

    1. I think we should be careful to draw distinctions between “discriminating against gays and lesbians” and “refusing to provide services in support of a gay marriage”, because the two are not equivalent.

      Yes, it should be legal to discriminate against anyone for any reason. However, these cases aren’t really about blanket discrimination against gays in every way. They are only objecting to having to do something that involves them with a particular kind of religious ceremony they disagree with.

      It would be entirely possible to have a law that bars general discrimination against gay people, while simultaneously allowing religious or conscientious objections in specific instances. Wedding services would clearly be one of those instances, for some people.

      1. So you have to be a guy who hits their knees on Sunday mornings to deny service to a guy who hits his knees on Friday nights?

        1. Well, you would have to have some sort of conscientious objection to gay marriage to be exempt from providing wedding services for gay marriages.

          It’s not ideal, but I think it’s important to make it clear that NOBODY is saying they want the right to refuse to (say) serve gay people in their restaurant. Because you know that people WILL try to make it look that way if given the opportunity.

      2. Unless Pence, Bosma, et al will publicly advocate the freedom to deny wedding services to divorce / remarriage, non-evangelicals, couples with a baby carriage before the marriage, etc. then they are lying that this law is not anti-Gay.

        Can you spell Pinocchio?

        1. Usually religious people are fervently in favor of unwed couples that have babies getting married. Obviously, they oppose sex before marriage, but if the woman gets pregnant it is pretty much universally considered a moral obligation for the man to marry her.

          Where did you get the idea that they would oppose marriage of couples that commited adultery together?

    2. how exactly does a business “discriminate based on sexual orientation” unless you’re waving your gay around like a @#($*@)* banner?

      and if not, how do you prove it? If they do…. how do you know they just don’t like *you*, regardless of choice of sexual partner?

      re: “harm”

      Its remarkable how often the left will vacillate between absurd definitions of “harm“, where a single word can cause a person ‘trauma’ – to impossibly high standards, where they’ll claim, “You dont NEED a pistol that shoots 10 rounds”… because you’re just as well off with 6 (or 5, or 4, or 1….). “”You can’t prove the absence is a *harm*!””… To pretending that “harm” includes things people *willingly, knowingly choose* – like ‘insufficient’ health coverage….

      its just a catch-all term they use to mean anything they want when needed.

  21. Reason – get a clue. The RFRA is an attempt to pierce the corporate veil.

    Corporations do not have free exercise rights, only natural persons. The RFRA is a gross abuse of the purposes of corporations, and shows where the Citizen’s United and Hobby Lobby Cases will take us. What next? Voter rights for IBM and General Motors?

    Yuu might make a legal case for sole proprietors being eligible to invoke the free exercise concept behind RFRA, but it is still very scary.

    The carve out for public accommodation by businesses open to the public has been long established and serves a compelling public interest in a wage based, urban economy.

    Think carefully: do you want to open that can of worms?

    1. All of the stockholders of the corporation are “natural persons”, and those “natural persons” have every right to use the financial organization system known as a “corporation” to exercise their rights.

      Where do you get the idea that if you financially organize with other people in certain ways you suddenly no longer have free exercise rights?

      1. Stockholders are not managing / running the business. The management of a company has the primary fiduciary responsibility to maximize value for shareholders, so you’re wrong: share holder free exercise has no impact in corporate decisions.

        The purpose of incorporation is to separate / limit liability by making the corporation a separate legal person. If you don’t approve of “x”, you can sell your stock, or try to gain a majority of shares and control the company yourself. Just be careful you don’t pierce the corporate veil, or suddenly you are personally liable for what the company does.

    2. Your language is so turgid I have to guess at your meaning, which smells fascist.

  22. I started with my online business I earn $58 every 15 minutes. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out.
    ? ? ? ? LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY ? ? ? ? ?

    ??????? http://www.jobsfish.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.