Thursday, April 2, 2015

Indiana and Arkansas Bills Revised

The Indiana and Arkansas "Religious Freedom" bills have both been altered in light of the controversy of the last couple of weeks. While the writers of the state bills claimed that they perfectly mirrored the federal laws signed into law in 1993, that was, of course, not true. And that was the problem. Despite both state's representatives repeatedly stating that their laws were no different than Clinton's law, the truth is in the revisions...


The new language unveiled by GOP leaders Thursday goes further than many observers thought it would, specifically including protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In a Thursday morning press conference, state Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R) and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) said they came up with the new language after speaking with business and civic leaders. 

"Hoosier hospitality had to be restored," Bosma said.

However, LGBT discrimination is still legal in Indiana...

But LGBT discrimination is still legal in Indiana, since it is not one of the states with comprehensive protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The new language does nothing to expand LGBT rights from where they were prior to Pence's signing of the RFRA. And the "fix" is still weak to many opponents who want to see the law repealed altogether. 

Read more of this story HERE


Unlike the earlier version presented to the governor Monday, the new law seems to limit the scope of who can file a claim alleging that their "free exercise of religion" has been "substantially burdened" to religious organizations or institutions which can demonstrate that the government has hindered their ability to practice their faith. The legislation as passed does not appear to apply to private or for-profit businesses or to individual actors, as SB 1228 did. 

The legislation does include an "emergency clause," which states that the General Assembly has determined "that there is not a higher protection offered by the state than the protection of a person's right to religious freedom; and that this act is immediately necessary because every day that a person's right to religious freedom is threatened is a day that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is compromised." 

The author of SB 1228, Rep. Bob Ballinger, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he thought his initial bill was "really good," but ultimately supported the passage of SB975, which he said is "essentially the Federal RFRA."

Read more of this story HERE

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