State religious freedom to discriminate laws
Part 9: 2015-MAR-31 in Indiana:
Assessing where the truth lies (Cont'd).
Jason Collins comments on RFRA law.
This topic is a continuation of the previous essay
Where does the truth lie? Are the federal and Indiana RFRAs identical, similar, or very different? (Continued)
Problems emerge at this point:
- The federal RFRA does not define exactly who a "person" is. They probably felt that the definition is obvious: a person is a living member of the species homo sapiens.
- Indiana's RFRA greatly expands its definition of "a person" to include individuals, organizations, religious societies, a church, a body of communicants, a group organized and operated primarily for religious purposes, a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, company, firm, society, joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, etc. 1,2
Thus, if this web site, ReligiousTolerance.org were:
- Located in Indiana and
- Provided a service or sold a product to the general public and
- Because of our religious beliefs, we refused to provide the service or product to an specific individual because of their sexual orientation, or gender identity, or any other factor not included in the state's human rights legislation, then:
we would be free to do so. The state government could not fine, imprison, or order the Religious Tolerance group to handle an individual's request.
But Indiana's RFRA goes even further. It states that a person, company, organization, etc.:
"... whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding."
That is, for example, a person, company, organization, etc. who is being sued because they refused, on religious grounds, to provide good or services could use the state RFRA as a defense in any lawsuit filed by another person, or by a state government department's administrative review.
Jason Collins, retired basketball champion comments on the RFRA act:
Collins retired and came out publicly as a gay man at the end of the 2012-13 NBA season. He comments on the RFRA law and what legislation he would like to see in Indiana:
Within twelve hours of this video being posted, it had received over 520 comments from viewers. Most were unsupportive of Collins' video. A few examples:
- Larry posted:
If I went into a bakery to order a cake for a special occasion and was told they only served homosexuals I would not stand there a DEMAND service. I would not go to the media or the government, I would not deliberatly attempt to destroy their business or their lives. I would simply say, " sorry, I didn't know" and go to another bakery. I would not be a hypocrite and assume my rights are more important than theirs. But then, I am a civilized, law abiding person with no desire to say "Hey! People. I"m here. LOOK AT ME."
- Celeste replied to Larry's post:
" 'I am a civilized, law abiding person ' Actually you are spineless for not making a stand against a bakery that is violating both your rights and the law."
- Ron responded to Celeste's post:
"Celesta, what are you talking about? What planet are you from?
- Steve S also responded to Celests' post:
"Celesta only knows what the community organizers tell her. Pay her no mind." 3
Webmaster's comment: (bias alert):
When various state politicians, potential candidates for the Presidency, etc. say that the Indian RFRA does not allow discrimination by companies against members of the LGBT community:
- They may not have actually read the RFRA.
- They may have read it but have not understood it.
- They may have read it, understood it, and are now lying to the public.
I can think of no other options. I also cannot think of a way, short of a polygraph test, to show which of the three options are true for each politician. And such a test would not be conclusive since its accuracy would only be about 80%.
One is forced to be impressed at the skill of the lawmaker(s) who wrote this bill. They have successfully set up a law that would facilitate businesses like retail outlets that offer goods and services to the general public to freely discriminate -- based on their religious beliefs -- against any members of the LGBT community with impunity. And yet the author(s) did not use the words "discrimination," "LGBT," "gay," "lesbian," "sexual orientation" or "gender identity" in the bill.
Also, people and companies can discriminate against any other non-protected group that they choose for any cause that they find reasonable according to their religious beliefs. Impressive accomplishment!
This topic continues in the next essay
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Text of the federal RFRA, HR 1308, Federal Government, 1993, at: http://www.gpo.gov/
- "Senate Enrolled Act #101," Indiana General Assembly, 2015, at: https://iga.in.gov/
- "Exclusive: Jason Collings on Indiana's RFRA," Yahoo! Sports, 2015-APR-04, at: http://sports.yahoo.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2015-APR-07
Author: B.A. Robinson