Indiana Law Sparks Controversy

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Indiana Law Sparks Controversy

AP

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AP

Max Rollfinke, News and Features Editor

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In late March, Indiana State Governor Mike Pence passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, seen by many as an attack against the LGBTQ community.  The law at first seems similar to the current federal law, but there are some key differences.  Both state that Government should “not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion;” however, the Indiana law includes businesses, societies, and religious organizations in their definition of person.  This means that companies could essentially ban people from their corporation if they thought are harmful to their religion, such as gays are viewed by some devout Christians.  In addition, if the right of religious freedom is violated, the federal law says the victim must contact the government, while the Indiana law says it doesn’t matter if the government is involved.

Because of these key differences to the national law, the Indiana law has been scrutinized by numerous political figures and many companies as well, who were affected by the law.  Several, companies supported the law, mostly Christian organizations such as Advance America.  Franklin Graham, CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, tweeted, “Thank God for politicians like [Mike Pence] who are not afraid to take a stand regardless of political consequences.”  The state of Arkansas also passed an almost identical law to Indiana’s, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal  is considering doing the same, maybe even with more direct ties to LGBTQ.  Despite these strong words and actions, most Americans feel differently.  Big companies like Walmart and Apple openly opposed the law, and the NCAA, who was hosting the Final Four when the law was first announced, has done the same.  Some political figures from Indiana are also against it, like Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who demanded that the state legislature, “Fix this law…Do so immediately.”  Even a whole state, Connecticut, banned travel to Indiana upon the announcement of the law.  Responding to the criticism, Indiana’s legislature made major changes to the law to make it more accepting.  Now, businesses cannot use the law as an excuse in court for not serving certain customers based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, and more factors.  This essentially negates the original purpose of the law. Still, many people against the law also wanted Indiana to change its Anti-Discrimination law so that it abolishes discrimination against sexual orientation.  This change has not yet occurred.  While the changes made are definitely positive, there is still progress to be made in Indiana.

This law, a step backward in many ways, undermines a positive movement towards equality for members of the LGBTQ community. According to Gallup, in 2004, only 42% percent of the country believed same sex marriages should be valid, whereas 55% thought they should not be.  Only ten years later, in 2014, those numbers were reversed.  However, opinions still differ greatly between political parties; 69% of Democrats are for same sex marriage but only 26% of Republicans are (according to Gallup).  Because of the clear difference between parties, the issue of same sex marriage could play a huge role in the 2016 presidential election.  Several Republican candidates have already backed the Indiana law, such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, as it supports their party’s interests.  On the other side, Hillary Clinton reacted negatively to the original law, and advised lawmakers to revise it through Twitter.  As candidates start to become apparent and the presidential race begins, LGBTQ rights will certainly be a point of contention.

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Indiana Law Sparks Controversy