Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Indiana passes very broad 'religious freedom' bill. We've been here before.

We will probably be seeing and hearing more from Lambda Legal.

And the latest phase of lgbt equality begins:

In a landslide 63-31 vote, the Indiana House of Representatives alarmed LGBT advocates Monday by passing a sweeping religious freedom bill that allows private parties — including businesses open to the public — to invoke a religious defense in legal cases.

The bill cleared Indiana’s senate in February.

Gov. Mike Pence resisted calls to veto the bill Monday evening, issuing a statement that said the measure “is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact. I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue. I look forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk.”

 . . .  The bill’s prime sponsor in the house, Republican Rep. Timothy Wesco . . . said the law is “modeled” after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Passed by Congress in 1993, that law and others like it at the state level prevent government from burdening a person’s exercise of religion.

. . .  However, the Indiana bill is broader than federal law. While the Indiana bill says that a “governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion,” it also applies those rules to businesses and interactions between private parties “regardless of whether the state or any other government entity is party to the proceeding.”

You can read the full story on Buzzfeed.

However, before any of you become angry, discouraged, or upset in any way, it's best to put this in perspective.

We've been here before. Before we could even fully celebrate the overturning of the sodomy laws at SCOTUS in 2003, the anti-gay right bombarded us with statewide anti-marriage equality bills. The irony was at that time, a lot of us (me included) didn't even conceive the idea of gays and lesbians getting married.

It took a while - quite a long while - but many of us got in engaged in the struggle for marriage equality and thanks to our perseverance and the tendency of our opposition to either go too far, underestimate us, or over overestimate themselves, we are looking at the possibility of a huge victory this year.

This is not to say that we should take these "religious freedom" bills lightly.  They are certain to pass in several other states and we are going to have to dig down and fight against them.

It's just a matter of perspective. The late social reformer and civil rights activist Frederick Douglass once said "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." 

We've been here before.
 

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