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Monday, February 02, 2015
Ind. Gov't. - "Religious freedom restoration" now set for hearing
There have been stories about this topic for weeks, but two bills on "religious freedom" have now been set for hearing in committee.
There have been many advance stories in the press about this effort, including:
- Jan. 23 - "Legislature to take up religious freedom bill" - Tom Davies, AP/LCJ
- Dec. 26, 2014 - "Religious freedom bill coming to Indiana" - Tony Cook and Marisa Kwiatkowski, IndyStar and "Analysis: In 'religious freedom,' GOP finds sticky issue" - Tom LoBianco, IndyStar
Jan. 26 - "Religious freedom act is unnecessary in Indiana" - Jane Heneger, ACLU, in IndyStar. A sample:
If Indiana were to enact a RFRA, the legislation would have the unintended effect of increasing government involvement in religious matters. Individuals could claim any law or government action burdens their exercise of religion. The legislation would require employers, government bureaucrats and ultimately judges to delve into people’s religious beliefs and determine whether they are “sincerely held” — which does just the opposite of getting government out of meddling in religion.
Our concerns about these bills are based not on conjecture, but on the experiences in other states and municipalities where similar legislation has already been passed. As the examples below demonstrate, anyone could claim an exemption from state or local laws they deem burdensome to their individual religious beliefs:
•A police officer in Oklahoma asserted a religious objection to attending a community relations event held at a mosque, claiming a “moral dilemma.”
•In New Mexico, a religious leader cited that state’s RFRA when he appealed a conviction for sexually abusing two teenagers.
•Pharmacists in several states have used religious freedom as a defense for refusing to dispense contraception.
•In Michigan, a public school guidance counselor refused to help gay students because of the counselor’s religious beliefs.
There are many more examples of how these laws have been misused, but you get the idea. Even if a claim is frivolous, the government will still have to use your tax dollars to fight it in court.
- From a very long Dec. 8, 2014 story by Emma Margolin, at MSNBC:
In the last legislative session, religious freedom measures were percolating in more than a dozen states, fueled in large part by high-profile discrimination claims such as one in Colorado – where a baker refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple – and another in New Mexico – where a photographer refused to shoot a same-sex commitment ceremony. Both of those business owners ended up losing in court, having violated their states’ non-discrimination laws. (New Mexico and Colorado happen to be two of the 18 states that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; most states, including Michigan, have no such protections.)[ILB, neither does Indiana]
For the most part, the religious freedom movement lost too – only it was in the court of public opinion. Under enormous pressure from major corporations like Apple, Delta, American Airlines, and the NFL, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer earlier this year was forced to kill a religious freedom measure that passed her state’s Republican-controlled legislature. The move effectively stopped similar bills dead in their tracks, save one in Mississippi, where a state RFRA went into effect on July 1.
The Hobby Lobby decision, however, as well as the Republican sweep in November’s midterm elections, seems to be encouraging “religious freedom” supporters to try again.
“We are very concerned as marriage equality becomes a reality that proponents of these bills are going to regroup and pour more resources into it, and that the push will be even more aggressive,” said Eunice Rho, an advocacy and policy counsel with the ACLU. “We’re certainly expecting [religious freedom bills] to be a very real threat in the upcoming year.”
Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 2, 2015 10:17 AM
Posted to Indiana Government