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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indiana's Governor Backpedals on Religious Rights

Gov. Mike Pence pledged Tuesday to "fix" Indiana's controversial religious freedom law to clarify that it does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. 
But he insisted the problem isn't the law itself but how it's being perceived, saying a fix is needed only because of "frankly, the smear that's been leveled against this law." And he said the fix won't involve statewide anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers.
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 "It would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone," Pence said in a press conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
Any such "fix" would gut the bill, which (at least in my understanding) was intended to prevent incidents such as this recent case from Washington where florist was fined for refusing to sell flowers to be used in a gay "wedding." That is, the bill was intended to allow the proprietor to not sell a product to certain individuals--or, perhaps, more correctly, the bill was designed to constrain the government from forcing a proprietor to sell to someone he or she did not want to sell.

The Christian Science Monitor claims that the issue here is that "the cherished right of freedom of religion has run headlong into the principle of nondiscrimination in the public sphere." What should be at issue, though, is whether anti-discrimination laws are moral. As others have pointed out, the same authority that a government claims to force you to sell a cake or flowers to someone is the same authority to force you to pick cotton for someone.


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