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What Religious Freedoms Does Indiana’s New Law Actually Grant?
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what do the new laws mean?

Summary: Legal experts are divided as to what Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act means.

In the latest front between the battle between gay rights and the Christian right, Indiana has enacted a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, that has created quite a fuss. What are the “religious freedoms” offered by the act? Many see it strictly in terms of being the Christian right’s answer to Indiana’s previous allowance of gay marriage. In this light, it is claimed that gays and gay couples can now be discriminated against under the austere and imposing strictures that other citizens wouldn’t be right with God, not only if they married a gay couple, but even sold flowers or baked a wedding cake for such a couple.


Does the law entail all that? Can a baker refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple’s marriage? This isn’t immediately clear. Legal experts dispute what the RFRA will change when it goes into effect July 1.

Unlike other states that have RFRA type laws, Indiana lacks anti-discrimination laws on the state level for the LGBT community. They do have protections in about a dozen cities, including Indianapolis, and critics of the law fear that those local laws may be undermined by the state level enactment.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence denies RFRA laws will be used to undermine local nondiscrimination laws, stating Thursday that this has never happened in other states.

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Nevertheless, in Washington state, a florist made the attempt by refusing to sell flowers to a gay couple on the grounds of her relationship with Jesus Christ. Washington doesn’t have a RFRA, and does have statewide nondiscrimination laws.

In other words, things could get ticklish, and considering that such laws raise rage and consternation, what the RFRA amounts to, in the end, will not be an answer for how the law should be applied, but a battlefield for prolonged ongoing struggles for how the laws should be applied.

“The law gives individuals and businesses the right to file litigation and go to the courts to decide whether or not their religious claims are justified,” said Robert Katz, an Indiana University law professor opposed to the law.

News Source: IndyStar


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