By MainStreet.com:..By Eric Reed…
Indiana’s version of religious freedom might end up costing the state big bucks.
Under a bill signed into law Thursday by the Republican Gov. Mike Pence, Indiana has become the 20th state to protect business owners who deny service to homosexuals. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows a business owner to cite his or her religious beliefs as a defense in court and bans local governments from making any law “substantially burdening” the free exercise of religion. The measure prohibiting local action addresses a recent spate of municipal anti-discrimination laws passed by cities across the country.
The law became a lightning rod almost instantly. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees,” wrote Indianapolis-based NCAA President Mark Emmert. While the Final Four will proceed as planned in Indianapolis this year, he said the conference will “closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”
Defense by Conservatives
Proponents claim that this law is necessary to prevent business owners from being forced to act against their religious beliefs, while critics argue that conservatives use “religious freedom” as a thin veil for discrimination. Pence disagreed, further arguing that “the Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”
Conservatives argue that these bills are necessary to protect business owners from having to choose between the law and their own faith. They cite cases such as the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado as examples, whose owner refused service to a gay couple and said that he “would close down the bakery” before serving a gay wedding. Since neither Constitutional nor federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation there, state and local laws have been left to find their own way.
Legal experts, however, point out that Indiana’s religious freedom law could extend well beyond its intent. Under language that protects any claim of religious burden a virtual patchwork of faith-based issues could spring forth from businesses around the state. Fears of faith-based racism are, however, unfounded. Racial discrimination is banned under federal law which Indiana cannot supersede.
Criticism by Businesses, Churches
In the immediate wake of passage Indiana began receiving national criticism. In addition to concerns expressed by the NCAA, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced in a series of tweets that his company will cancel all programs that require its employees or customers to travel to Indiana, urging “slow rolling economic sanctions if the law is not thrown out.”
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman joined in with an open letter, saying that “it …read more
Read more here: Indiana Allows Businesses to Refuse to Serve Gay Customers
Category: chamber of commerce, civil rights, discrimination, final four, freedom of religion, gay rights, gays, homosexual, homosexuals, Indiana, march madness, mike pence, NCAA Tournament, refuse service, religious freedom, Salesforce.com, yelp