Americans, businesses and cities condemned Indiana’s RFRA ever since Governor Mike Pence signed it in to law. Pence tried to claim his critics didn’t understand the law, but that blew up in his face when, during a press conference, the House Speaker and the Senate Pro Tem admitted that No Gay signs would be allowed in Indiana.
On Sunday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence tried to stem the backlash against the RFRA a law its critics say legalizes discrimination. Pence’s attempt to spin his way out of a nationwide backlash was an epic fail. After doubling down in defense of the bill, Pence repeatedly dodged when asked if the bill allows discrimination against the LGBT community. He trotted out bizarre theories about internet conspiracies and claimed that critics just don’t understand the bill. And besides, it really is just a law that several other states adopted which is based on the Federal RFRA.
Pence was busted when Indiana’s Senate Pro Tem and the Speaker of the House held a joint news conference admitting that “No Gays allowed” signs would be permitted in areas within Indiana.
If only Pence or someone on his staff took a trip outside right wing world. He would have known the cat was out of the bag back in January. As reported by Think Progress at the time,
But while RFRAs advanced in previous years were designed to prohibit the government from burdening the religious beliefs of citizens, Indiana’s bill would allow individuals to use their religious beliefs to defend themselves in court even if the state is not party to the case. Thus, this would allow a business owner to use their religious beliefs to justify refusing services for a same-sex couple’s wedding. As a state law, this would supersede any municipal nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBT people.
During a joint press conference, Brian Bosma, Speaker of the House and the Senate’s Pro Tem David Long acknowledged that homophobic shop keepers will be allowed to display “No Gays allowed” signs.
Here’s the exchange between the lawmakers and a reporter, as reported by Raw Story.
“You guys have said repeatedly that we shouldn’t be able to discriminate against anyone, but if you just ignore the existence of this law, can’t we already do that now? Can’t so-and-so in Richmond put a sign up and say ‘No Gays Allowed?’” she asked. “That’s not against the law, correct?”
“It would depend,” Bosma replied. “If you were in a community that had a human rights ordinance that wouldn’t be the case.”
“But most of the state does not have that, correct?” the reporter pressed.
“That’s correct,” Bosma admitted.
Since Pence signed the law, the backlash was swift. #BoycottIndiana trended on Twitter for several days. Celebrities spoke out. Angie’s List was one of several businesses that registered their opposition to the law with their big corporate dollars. Then the cities of San Francisco and Seattle announced they would boycott the Hoosier state. Connecticut was the first state to announce it would boycott Indiana.
Contrary to Pence’s protests that critics just didn’t understand the law, it is now abundantly clear that Pence’s attempt at damage control was the epic fail of epic fails.
Pence and fellow Republicans are trying to walk back the damage with a “clarification” law, but it’s a little late now that the State’s House Speaker has encouraged homophobic shop owners to let Gays know their business is not wanted.
Just like those wonderful religious freedom days when signs like “No Blacks and Jews” or my personal favorite, “No Jews and dogs”, Indiana this was always about hiding behind religion to justify hatred of identifiable groups of people.
Meanwhile, governor, Asa Hutchison is contemplating if he wants to follow the disastrous path of Mike Pence.
Americans see through the ruse that these laws are really just a repeat of the Federal RFRA. For one thing, the Indiana version allows for-profit businesses to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The Federal RFRA passed into law before the Roberts Court asserted that corporations have first civil rights, first in Citizens United and last year in Hobby Lobby ruling.