Four hard-right Indiana state senators are once again trying to make Indiana a “right-to-discriminate” state. They are doing so through Senate Bill 66 (see bleow for full text) which would make just about all state and municipal LGBT non-discrimination ordinances unenforceable.
It is instructive to start with the United States RFRA (in part):
(a) In general
Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) EXCEPTION Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Here is Indiana’s proposed version in SB66:
A governmental entity may not substantially burden a
person’s fundamental right unless the governmental entity
demonstrates that the application of the burden to the person:
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest;
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling
On the surface it doesn’t look that bad until you drill down. First off, under US code a person means, well … a person. Under the proposed bill a person means “An individual, including a group or association of
individuals. [and] Any other legal entity.” In other words they want to ensure that the license-to-discriminate extends to every possible individual or combination of individuals in the state. This means schools, clubs, restaurants, theaters, shops, services … everything.
Then under federal law, even post Hobby Lobby, the right to free exercise means the right to worship in the manner you choose.
This bill substitutes the words “fundamental right” for free exercise. And just what do they mean by fundamental right. Well, they define it for us. It includes: “The right to worship …; The right to free exercise and enjoyment of religious
opinions and the right of conscience …; The right to freedom of religion …; The right to freedom of thought and speech …; The right of assemblage and petition …;” And, of course, “The right to bear arms ….”
The proposed bill also omits the exception for when the government may burden an individual’s rights. They want to be sure that there are no loop-holes in Indiana that might actually have some semblance of sanity.
In other words, it is an armed license to discriminate.