Sunday, March 29, 2015

Indiana Doesn't Want You ~ State Faces Business Backlash to Bigotry Law

 photo Indiana-Pence2.png

Previous Related Post:
Indiana Gov. Pence Signs Law Permitting Gay Discrimination


Governor Pence of Indiana continues to muddle along inside his Bigoted Bubble, defending the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which he signed into law last week. And the mockery continues on Twitter and really everywhere, with Saturday Night Live mentioning the state during Weekend Update, and another group creating a faux Tourism video promising that Bigots are always welcome in Indiana.

After promising to "clarify" the law in order to stop a nationwide boycott, Pence immediately rolled that back on a Sunday talk show.

From ABC News
Pence described the media coverage and opposition to the law as "shameless rhetoric," saying it strengthens the foundation of First Amendment rights rather than discriminates.
“We're not going to change the law," he said, "but if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, than I'm open to that."
When ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Pence if the law allowed businesses like florists to refuse to work with gay or lesbian weddings, as critics have said, the governor said the situation has more to do with whether the government is involved.

Actually, during the interview Stephanopoulos asked Pence at least 6 times to answer yes or no if the law allowed discrimination against the LGBT community by business owners, and the governor either didn't answer or waffled, avoiding the fact that the Indiana law provides no protection for gay citizens. See transcript further down the page here.

The mumbling answers amused members of the Indiana press who cover the statehouse there.

From the ABC Transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But I think one of the problems that people have pointed out is that in Indiana, your civil rights laws don't include sexual orientation as a protected class. And even some of the supporters of the bill who were -- who appeared with you when you signed the bill, Eric Miller of Advanced America wrote that, "It will protect those who oppose gay marriage."

He put up this example. He said, "Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage."

(1) So this is a yes or no question.

Is Advance America right when they say a florist in Indiana can now refuse to serve a gay couple without fear of punishment?

PENCE: Well, let -- let me explain to you, the purpose of this bill is to empower and has been for more than 20 years, George. This is not speculative. The purpose of this legislation, which is the law in all 50 states in our federal courts and it's the law by either statute or court decisions in some 30 other states, is very simply to empower individual when they believe that actions of government impinge on their constitutional First Amendment freedom of religion.

And, frankly, George, there's a lot of people across this country who -- you're looking at ObamaCare and the Hobby Lobby decision, looking at other cases, who feel that their religious liberty is being infringed upon and -- and The Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the federal level and all the states now, including Indiana, who have it, are simply about addressing that.

This is not about discrimination, this is about...


(2) And so yes or no, if a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?

PENCE: George, this is -- this is where this debate has gone, with -- with misinformation and frankly...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's just a question, sir. Question, sir.

(3) Yes or no?

PENCE: Well -- well, this -- there's been shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and about its intention all over the Internet. People are trying to make it about one particular issue. And now you're doing that, as well.

The issue here -- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been on the books for more than 20 years. It does not apply, George, to disputes between individuals unless government action is involved. And in point of fact, in more than two decades, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never been used to undermine anti-discrimination laws in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: . . . (4) Is that true or not?

PENCE: George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two way street or not?

I mean, you know, there's a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today having to do with people on the left. And a -- but here Indiana steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state and this avalanche of intolerance that's been poured on our state is just outrageous.
You've been to Indiana a bunch of times. You know it. There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana.

And yet because we simply stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana, of every faith, we at -- we have suffered under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation and it's completely baseless.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor -- Governor, I...

PENCE: It's not based in any...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I completely...

PENCE: -- fact whatsoever.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- I completely agree with you about the good people...

PENCE: And I think people...


PENCE: -- are getting tired of it, George. I really do.


PENCE: Tolerance is a two way street.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So when you say tolerance is a two way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that it's now legal in the state of Indiana?

(5) That's the simple yes or no question.

PENCE: George, the -- the question here is if the -- if there is a government action or a law that an individual believes impinges on their religious liberty, they have the opportunity to go to court, just as The Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Bill Clinton signed allowed them, go to court and the court would evaluate the circumstance under the standards articulated in this Act.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm trying to get that same clarity. And it sounds to me like what you're saying is that someone could use their religious faith as a defense against any kind of a suit brought there.

But let's try to get to that clarification you're talking about.

(6) One fix that people have talked about is simply adding sexual orientation as a protected class under the state's civil rights laws.
Will you push for that?

PENCE: I will not push for that. That's a -- that's not on my agenda and that's not been the -- that's not been an objective of the people of the state of Indiana. And it doesn't have anything to do with this law.

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