Last week, the Indiana Senate voted in the name of “religious freedom restoration,” according to its text. The bill was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence on Thursday, March 26.
The law “prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.” Opponents of the law argue that the law might allow business owners to refuse to serve with members of the LGBTQ community. Supporters believe it will protect their ability to practice their religion at work.
Republican Senate President David Long stated, “It is not the intent of the law to discriminate against anyone, we need to clarify through legislative action that this law that will not allow to discrimination against anyone.” Governor David Pence supported this action.
“We’re not going to change the law, but if the general assembly sends me a bill that clarifies what the law really is, then I’m open to that,” Pence said.
Despite these defenses, it is known that Indiana does not have any state-wide non-discrimination laws to the LGBTQ community in issues like housing and employment. There is religious opposition to this community, and currently no laws to defend them. This is the main concern for those who are against the religious freedom law.
Many celebrities and business owners have taken action to protest this law. CEO of Angie’s List, Bill Oesterle, halted the company’s plans to expand their headquarters in Indiana.
President Mark Emmert of the NCAA said that his organization is “concerned about how this legislation could affect our student athletes and employees.”
Arkansas, now considering a similar bill known as HB (House Bill) 1228, is facing pressure on both sides to either pass or not pass the bill. It received the majority vote in the Senate, and is now waiting for a signature from Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Although the bill is going back to the House of Representatives for its final approval, Hutchinson has stated that he will sign the bill.