Reposted from leftprogressive by Mokurai
From The Indianapolis Star:
Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a measure aimed at removing fears that the state's new "religious freedom" law would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Here is his full statement:
"The freedom of religion for every Hoosier is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and in the Indiana Constitution, which reads, 'No law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.' For generations, these protections have served as a bulwark of religious liberty for Hoosiers and remain a foundation of religious liberty in the State of Indiana, and that will not change.
"Last week the Indiana General Assembly passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act raising the judicial standard that would be used when government action intrudes upon the religious liberty of Hoosiers, and I was pleased to sign it.
"Over the past week this law has become a subject of great misunderstanding and controversy across our state and nation. However we got here, we are where we are, and it is important that our state take action to address the concerns that have been raised and move forward.
"Last weekend I called upon the Indiana General Assembly to clarify that this new judicial standard would not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual as its critics have alleged. I am grateful for the efforts of legislators, business and other community leaders who came together to forge this clarifying language in the law.
"Hoosiers deserve to know, that even with this legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enhances protections for every church, non-profit religious organization or society, religious school, rabbi, priest, preacher, minister or pastor in the review of government action where their religious liberty is infringed. The law also enhances protection in religious liberty cases for groups of individuals and businesses in conscience decisions that do not involve provision of goods and services, employment and housing.
"In the midst of this furious debate, I have prayed earnestly for wisdom and compassion, and I have felt the prayers of people across this state and across this nation. For that I will be forever grateful.
"There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first and ask myself every day, 'What is best for Indiana?' I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana.
"Our state is rightly celebrated for our pro-business environment, and we enjoy an international reputation for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance and kindness of our people. Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan; it is our way of life. Now that this is behind us, let's move forward together with a renewed commitment to the civility and respect that make this state great."
When the clarification was revealed, many religious right groups expressed their disappointment and urged a veto. From the Family Research Council:
WASHINGTON, DC -- Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins released the following statement in response to Indiana legislation that would gut the state's Religious Freedom Restoration law which is also on the books in 19 other states:
"On the eve of Good Friday, Big Business is encouraging elected leaders to take the silver over religious freedom.
"This new proposal guts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and empowers the government to impose punishing fines on people for following their beliefs about marriage.
"Religious freedom should not be held hostage by Big Business. Big Business is now putting religious freedom in a worse place than before RFRA was signed into law. Gutting RFRA in this manner would put people of faith in the crosshairs of government discrimination as never before. Far from being a 'clarification,' this would gut religious freedom in Indiana. Religious freedom doesn't need a 'fix.'
"This proposal would force religious businesses and even nonprofits deemed 'not religious enough' to participate in wedding ceremonies contrary to their owners' beliefs. If the government punishes people for living their faith, there are no limits to what government can control.
"We urge the governor to veto this measure that will be used by the government to bring financial ruin on people like florist Barronelle Stutzman, bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, and wedding photographer Elaine Huguenin.
"Now is the time for elected officials to refuse big business' enticements to sacrifice the fundamental right of people to live their lives according to their beliefs. They should stand on the side of freedom and the American people - not with big business and the intolerant left who want to use the government to punish people for freely living according to their beliefs," concluded Perkins.
• WPA Opinion Research poll finds 81 percent of Americans believe the "government should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses."
• Rasmussen Survey released yesterday reports 70% of Americans "agree that a Christian wedding photographer who has deeply held religious beliefs opposing same-sex marriage has the right to turn down working a job at such a wedding."
From Advance America
, which was a key lobbyist group in support of RFRA:
[Indianapolis, IN] Eric Miller, the Founder and Executive Director of Advance America announced their strong opposition to the proposed drastic change to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“The Indiana General Assembly should not destroy in less than 36 hours the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that took over 65 days to go through the legislative process earlier this year,” Miller stated.
The members of the Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives are scheduled to vote on a conference committee report to Senate Bill 50 on Thursday, April 2nd that carries language drastically changing and undermining the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“It is wrong for the senators and representatives to vote on a bill that has been written in the last few hours behind closed doors and out of sight of the public. It is wrong for the senators and representatives to make a sham of the legislative process and vote on this bill that has never had one public committee hearing in the Senate or the House.”
“The proposed change to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not a “fix” but a hammer to destroy religious freedom for Hoosiers around the state – and it was all done behind closed doors!”
The proposed conference committee report will remove religious freedom protection from Hoosier businesses that they presently have in Indiana law.
If the conference committee report is adopted, Christian bakers, florists and photographers would no longer have the benefit of Indiana law to help protect them from being forced by the government to participate in a homosexual wedding.
Likewise, A Christian business owner would no longer have the benefit of Indiana law to help protect him from being forced to permit a male cross-dresser to use the women’s restroom and women’s shower area.
Therefore if the proposed conference committee report is adopted by the General Assembly Hoosier businesses would have less protection for religious freedom than businesses in the majority of other states.
Miller concluded, “In view of the fact that the public has been shut out of the legislative process with regard to the proposed change to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the General Assembly should defeat the proposed conference committee report.”
Stung by a furor of false accusations against the Indiana Religious Liberty Restoration Act, some Republican legislators are proposing to "fix" the law by stripping it of any chance to protect people of faith against being forced by law to participate in same-sex 'marriage' ceremonies that violate their deeply held religious beliefs.
Worse, they are rewarding gay activists and celebrities like Miley Cyrus who intentionally and massively mischaracterized the legislation passed last week with expanded "anti-discrimination" provisions that will be used as a club by these same activists to punish people of faith for supporting biblical principles in the way they live their lives.
Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, recently tweeted: "This Indiana 'compromise' is a train wreck. It should be voted down."
This "fix" legislation must be defeated! It is like paying ransom to a kidnapper — a complete abandonment of principle in the face of political pressure from those bent on redefining marriage and imposing a radical agenda on the country.
Please sign this petition immediately so that Governor Mike Pence and top Republican legislators realize that we will not stand for this abandonment of people of faith in order to reward the radical left who have grossly mischaracterized the Religious Liberty Restoration Act.
This issue is on a fast-track. It could pass as early as today or tomorrow. Please act immediately so that Governor Pence and Indiana legislators know that you stand for marriage and against the radical left who want to impose their agenda on the nation.
We are getting more reports now of Pence's signing.
From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:
[The fix] states explicitly that the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn't authorize businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians.
FOX59 is providing some information
But the new language doesn't prohibit discrimination on a broad basis since Indiana law still doesn't recognize sexual orientation as a protected class similar to race and gender. A handful of communities in the state do have such bans.
The move was necessary to try to quash a national backlash against the state that has resulted in boycotts, ridicule and unflattering national coverage.
on the vote in the legislature:
This language passed 66 to 30 out of the House and 34 to 16 out of the Senate. It did not receive a single democratic vote. Democrats claim it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
ThinkProgress has a report on what the law does. It establishes that the law can't be used as a defines to a suit brought under a local nondiscrimination ordinance.
Indiana’s RFRA will no longer trump state or local laws banning anti-gay discrimination: The fix provides that Indiana’s RFRA does not authorize businesses “to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodation, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public” on the basis of a list of protected traits that includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Another provision provides that the state’s RFRA law does not “establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution” brought against someone who engages in such discrimination. This language appears broad enough to permit local ordinances protecting gay and trans rights to function against business owners with religious objections to LGBT people. It also would enable a similar state law to function, were the Indiana legislature to pass such a law in the future.
However, no statewide civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity have been added:
LGBT people in Indiana gain no new rights from the fix: In the wake of the backlash against the original Indiana RFRA law, many LGBT rights groups hope that the state would enact anti-discrimination provisions protecting gay and trans people in Indiana at the state level. The fix includes none of these protections. What that means is that LGBT people who live in cities like Indianapolis will regain the rights they already enjoyed before the state RFRA law took effect, but LGBT people who were unprotected before this law will remain unprotected.
This will be my last update. I'm anticipating, as I'm sure we all are, the sh*tstorm that we will see from the religious right. I'm going to keep monitoring religious right groups, and I will post their reactions when I see them on a new diary.
I changed the word "fix" in the title to "amendment". Some have claimed that this does not fix the situation, and I agree. (I oppose all RFRAs as too broad and allowing anyone to do anything.)