By Marie E. Matyjaszek
Oh, Indiana. Home of the NCAA and host of the Final Four basketball tournament that my beloved Spartans were in, the Hoosier State has been at the center of a recent political storm.
Having the effect of setting the state back several centuries, Indiana Governor Mike Pence recently signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Governor and supporters of the law stated that the intent of the legislation is to protect people from having to act against their religious beliefs, and provide a legal defense if sued. However, the way the legislation was drafted sparked debate over whether or not the law allowed Indiana businesses to refuse service to certain individuals if their lifestyle does not comport with the business owners’ religious beliefs. Those in opposition of the law believe that it creates a loophole for legal discrimination against gays and lesbians.
On April 2, hopefully not in the form of a belated April Fool’s Day joke), Indiana’s governor signed an amendment to the law, which is meant to patch together a “fix” that prohibits discrimination against the LGBT community by businesses and other providers. Many people believe that the only fix is to nix the entire law. Notably, it exempts churches and other nonprofit religious organizations from being included in the term “providers,” and Indiana’s anti-discrimination law still doesn’t protect the LGBT community. The push for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act came as a counter to the marriage equality movement.
In the short period of time since the original law was signed, an Indiana pizza business has already come out and said that if a gay couple wanted pizzas at their wedding, they would not provide
Memories Pizza, located in Walkerton, Ind., is owned by a family who holds strong Christian beliefs, including not supporting gay marriage. When the owners gave their support of the recent law by saying that they would not cater a gay wedding, the backlash was immediate. Protests, boycotting of the business, and unfortunately threats have been hurled against the pizza parlor.
Other businesses, such as the popular website Angie’s List, have decided against expanding operations in Indianapolis, and declared the amendment to be “insufficient.” Several states and cities have prohibited spending on travel to Indiana in light of the original law. Tourism is likely to take a substantial hit.
Even with the amendment, it is unlikely that Indiana will receive glowing reviews from the LGBT community any time soon. The damage was strong and swift, and while the legislative fallout may lessen over time, it will not be forgotten for years to come.
Marie E. Matyjaszek is a family law attorney whose blog site is: http://legalbling.blogspot.com. She can be reached by e-mailing her at email@example.com.
By Marie E. Matyjaszek
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