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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Businesses and nonprofits have twisted the idea of religious freedom, arguing that it provides the right to discriminate"

That is a quote from an article yesterday in The Guardian, by Louise Melling, headed "More courts are telling businesses: stop using religion to discriminate." A few quotes:

[Since Hobby Lobby] lower courts and commissions have been stepping up and ruling against companies that try to use the freedom of religion argument as a pretext for discrimination against LGBT people and women.

Religious freedom is integral to this country. It must - and will – be protected. But what is being increasingly recognized is that religious freedom gives us all a right to our beliefs. This right, though, like all our rights, has limits. Those limits come into play when acting on our beliefs harms others.

Religious liberty can’t be used by businesses to turn away lesbian and gay couples seeking to celebrate a relationship, or by religiously associated nonprofits who treat women employees like second-class citizens by denying contraceptive coverage. The promise of equality is not real or robust if it has exceptions. * * *

When there were calls in congress and courts across the country to let businesses turn away African Americans because of religious beliefs, the answer was a resounding “no.” The answer should be the same today.

Businesses and nonprofits have twisted the idea of religious freedom, arguing that it provides the right to discriminate. They’d like the right to put up a big sign that says, “We don’t serve your kind here,” and claim that’s okay simply because of their religious beliefs.

The growing response from courthouses and government bodies has been a loud and clear, “No.” This shift promises that religious freedom will be protected – and the promise of equality will too.

But another [and perhaps more realistic] view of that response comes from a long, perhaps dynamic, post by Jeff Guo in the Washington Post's GovBeat that surveys the status of pending legislation in the states. Some quotes:
[T]he fight over gay rights continues in conservative corners of the country, where legislators are advancing laws that would, intentionally or not, ensure that gay people can be refused service, fired or evicted simply for being gay.

There are no national laws protecting against these forms of discrimination, so the matter has been left up to individual communities. A growing list of cities, for instance, are passing gay anti-discrimination ordinances, which has raised the ire of their more conservative state houses.

In this year’s legislative session, similar bills in several states are striking back against gay rights.

The proposed state laws fall into two categories. Some are anti-anti-discrimination measures that would prevent a state’s cities or counties from creating protections for gay people. * * *

In another, more classic category are laws that would protect people who discriminate against gay people on religious grounds. There has been tremendous legal murkiness concerning when and in which contexts religious rights trump gay rights. These religious freedom bills would have religious rights triumph, always.

Yesterday, Indiana’s Senate passed SB 101, a broadly written bill that would shield anybody from laws infringing on the practice of their religion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 26, 2015 09:49 AM
Posted to Indiana Government